Japan to legalize medical marijuana
Japan to legalize medical marijuana

Is Japan Going to Be the Next Asian Country After Thailand to Legalize Medical Cannabis?

Will Japan legalize medical marijuana before the USA?

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Monday May 30, 2022

japan to legalize medical marijuana after thailand

Japan has always been a country known for its conservative culture.


They have also been notorious for extremely strict drug laws. But that hasn’t stopped many people from using marijuana illegally. In 2021, a police report revealed that a record-breaking 5,482 people were caught for cannabis related crimes. These figures have been increasing for 8 years now, with cannabis use growing among the youth.  


Japanese people have been exposed to the benefits of cannabis medically through travels abroad, where its liberal use especially in north America makes it easy for them to try marijuana. More and more Japanese are becoming educated on the benefits of CBD and THC, and now, the health ministry is considering legalizing medical marijuana.


On May 25, the expert panel of the Japanese health ministry met to start discussions on how the Cannabis Control Law should be modified, reports The Asahi Shimbun. The law, which was set in place in 1948, prohibits the use of cannabis both recreationally and illegally, even though the Japanese have been cultivating cannabis more than 6,000 years ago. Marijuana is one of Japan’s earliest grown plants, and archaeologists suggested that marijuana fibers were used to make clothing, fishing lines, and bow ties. With the cannabis control law, anyone caught in possession of marijuana faces up to 5 years in jail, and illegal growers can go to jail for as long as 7 years.


Hopefully, the Japanese health ministry can change things so that the people can finally enjoy the benefits of marijuana, like many other countries. Last June 2021, a report was created by the ministry, recommending that the government allow people to use drugs that are made with cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy, following suit with the United States. Revisions for the cannabis control law will be drafted by the summer.


For the revisions, the ministry recommends banning marijuana as a substance though parts of it will be legal. They believe that doing so will make it easier for people to access it for medical reasons, which is a huge step forward for more people to benefit from the health properties of THC. They will also be discussing the addition of provisions to the law so that recreational use would be punished though medicinal use would not.


Regulatory Loophole, CBD For Skincare Is Famous


Currently, a regulatory loophole in the law has made CBD legal, so a wide market has opened since 2016 to a culture that has been known for being extremely health conscious. In Tokyo, visitors can already go to elegant cafes that sell CBD products even though it’s at significantly low doses. They are also extremely expensive.


Metropolis Japan also reports that Priyanka Yoshikawa, former Miss World Japan, already launched a CBD-infused skincare company. “The latest skincare research proves that CBD can have great effects when applied to the skin. This natural extract is derived from hemp, which is called a ‘super plant’, as it does much more to improve the earth than most plants, such as putting nutrients back into the soil around it and making it more fertile,” she said.


Last October 2021, Kotomori, one of the newest start-ups in Japan, just released the first CBD jelly designed to help people struggling with sleep, reports Nutra Ingredients Asia. According to Kotomori’s CEO, Izuho Tazawa: “Sleeping problems are common in Japan, so I developed a product to help people have a better quality of sleep, which in turn leads to less stress.” The product contains CBD as well as erythritol, fruit juice, citric acid, flavoring, and a gelling agent from seaweed. He said that he formulated it in jelly because “you can eat anywhere on the train or the bed, it is more approachable instead of oils. CBD is a journey, so we hope people will enjoy the process of taking our CBD jelly.”


CBD is even available at Don Quixote, one of the biggest discount stores in the country. But the legality of CBD products would depend on which part of the plant it came from; it must be completely free from THC and importing CBD without THC is still not regulated.


Following Suit With Other Nations


The Group of Seven (G7) is a political group of countries including Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan. All countries except Japan have already allowed the use of CBD for epilepsy.


In addition, last 2020, neighboring Asian country Thailand already legalized the medical use of marijuana. Cannabis oil is now allowed for treatments, and CBD cafes have sprouted up around the country, so anyone can walk up and buy a drink infused with CBD. Recreational use of cannabis in Thailand will still have harsh penalties but nonetheless, Thailand was another Asian country with notoriously harsh drug penalty laws, it was a huge step forward.


Legalizing the medical use of cannabis could have tremendous benefits for Japan’s economy. According to Prohibition Partners, Japan’s medical cannabis market could be worth US $800 million by 2024.  


However, the Japanese market still has to overcome certain obstacles before the CBD or cannabis market can truly flourish. One of these is the stigma that is still associated with cannabis use, even though attitudes are already changing especially among the youth. The second is the law, though the health ministry is already working towards changing that. Having said that, there is a real opportunity for Japan primarily when it comes to educating people and changing the stigma involved.





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