By / October 3, 2022

Japan Might Legalize Cannabis-Derived Medicine despite Strict Cannabis Bans

Japan should approve the use of cannabis-based medicines, a panel of experts from the Health Ministry recommended, paving the way for a possible revision of strict drug laws.

However, while the recommendation is a promising sign for cannabis in a notoriously anti-cannabis country like Japan, it remains a recommendation, with nothing concrete put in place yet. Should Japan act on the recommendation, we will provide ongoing updates here, which you can follow by downloading our free cannabis news app.

If Medical Cannabis is Legalized, Japan Will Maintain its Strict Ban on Recreational Cannabis

The recommended change would not affect Japan’s “zero tolerance” policy on the recreational use of cannabis; on the contrary, the same panel would propose tightening rules on its non-medical use.

Laws against cannabis are particularly severe in Japan, where international stars have been affected – ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, who spent nine days in prison in 1980 after the discovery of cannabis in his luggage, is among them.

Japanese Government Discussing Cannabis-Derived Medicine

For several months now, the Japanese government has been discussing the possible approval of cannabis-derived medicines, which many countries have already done to treat certain diseases, such as severe cases of epilepsy.

The Japanese Health Ministry’s expert group recommended that the government reviews legislation to allow the importation and manufacture of medicines that use cannabis components. However, it also called for a revision of the texts to clarify that recreational cannabis is a serious crime.

At the Moment, Cannabis Use Is Technically Legal in Japan

The recommendations would also close a loophole in Japan that makes cannabis use legal, even if possessing its buds, leaves, and roots is punishable by five years in prison or even seven in the case of sale for profit.

This paradox stems from an old measure to prevent Japanese hemp farmers from being arrested for inhaling psychoactive smoke when growing hemp to make rope.

With CBD Gaining Popularity, Panel Recommends Ban on THC

The panel’s recommendations come at a time when products containing cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychotropic molecule in cannabis, are also gaining popularity in Japan.

The panel called for the current blanket ban on cannabis plants to be replaced by a prohibition on THC, its main psychoactive molecule. This would ensure that the emerging Japanese CBD industry is not restricted, a health ministry official told AFP, noting that “CBD is legal and is used in food supplements and cosmetics.”

The Japanese government will examine these recommendations, and legislative amendments can only be made after a bill has been submitted and passed by Parliament.

(Featured image by Kimzy Nanney via Unsplash)

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