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Japan considers legalizing medical marijuana, criminalizing recreational use


Japan’s health ministry plans to revise current law in a way that would forbid certain substances of cannabis instead of parts of the plant, making it easier to allow certain medical marijuana products.

Could Japan be the next country in Asia to embrace medical marijuana? It’s looking that way. (Benzinga)

The country’s health ministry held a meeting Wednesday to negotiate the revision of the Cannabis Control Law from 1948. The ministry is considering legalizing cannabis for medical use and adding a provision to criminalize its consumption for recreational purposes, writes The Asahi Shimbun.


Cannabis smuggling nets Okinawa-based Marine two years in Japanese prison

person in handcuffs

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An Okinawa-based Marine was sentenced to two years in a Japanese prison Friday for attempting to smuggle cannabis products into the country and two others pleaded guilty to similar charges in an unrelated case.

Cpl. Nicholas Garner received two years in prison with hard labor and a $4,344 fine in Naha District Court, a court spokeswoman told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday. It’s customary in Japan for officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity. 

Garner pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to two counts of violating Japan’s Cannabis Control and Customs Act, the Okinawa Times reported at the time.


Japanese gov't to ease prohibition of cannabis-derived medicines

Following months of discussion, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is set to approve the use of pharmaceuticals containing cannabis as an ingredient in Japan, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Japanese legal system takes a particularly hardline stance against drugs, and even the possession of a small amount of marijuana is generally treated as a major crime. However, following the approval of cannabis-based medicines in many other nations, at the beginning of the year the ministry formed a committee to discuss whether Japan should follow suit, with the effectiveness of such medications in treating sufferers of refractory epilepsy and as a pain suppressant for cancer patients.


Japan sees record cannabis offenders above 5,000 in 2020

A record 5,034 people were involved in cannabis-related crimes in Japan in 2020, with teens and those in their 20s accounting for the majority of the offenders, police data showed Thursday.

The figure rose 713 from the previous year for the seventh consecutive yearly increase and exceeded 5,000 for the first time.

Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2020, shows cannabis plants confiscated by police in Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo)

The National Police Agency warned that many young people are not aware of the risk of drugs due to the circulation of "positive information online" and vowed to boost cyber patrols and crack down on drug deals using social media.


Japan’s Cannabis Policy is Moving in the Wrong Direction

multicoloured image of a street

In virtually every corner of Earth the cannabis reform movement is making strides. 

Sure, only 2 countries have legalized cannabis for adult use (Uruguay and Canada).

However, several nations have legalized cannabis for medical use.

At least two countries, Mexico and Israel, are expected to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2021, and this year will no doubt see several countries move forward with implementing medical cannabis reform.

With momentum for cannabis reform seemingly increasing across the globe, there is one country that may be moving in the opposite direction.


Japan's hemp business wants to distance itself from image of narcotics

hemp plants growing outdoors

The announcement that the amount of marijuana in liquid form seized by customs officials in Tokyo in 2020 soared nearly 70 times from the previous year has attracted headlines in a country that still operates a zero-tolerance policy on all forms of narcotics. For Junichi Takayasu, founder of the Hemp Museum, the dramatic media coverage of the figures is deeply unfortunate.

All too often, he says, the Japanese media, local authorities, the police and public simply conflate cannabis with hemp, a crop that has a history that stretches back centuries in Japan, and which Takayasu would like to see once again flourishing in the fields.


Seizures of liquid marijuana surging in Japan

liquid marijuana in test tubes

The amount of liquid marijuana seized in Japan has been surging, putting police and customs authorities on high alert.

The estimated amount of marijuana in liquid form confiscated by Tokyo Customs in 2020 jumped nearly 70 times from the previous year’s level. A customs official described the situation as “an explosive increase.”

The liquid extracted from marijuana plants has a higher content of hallucinogenic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, than dried cannabis and can be used in a similar way to electronic cigarettes.

“Many users are youngsters,” an official at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department said. “My impression is that it has been in wider use for the past 10 years or so.”


Is Japan ready to embrace CBD?

Kota Shimomura, owner of CBD Coffee in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, has noticed a peculiar thing about his clientele. “When talking to customers, they do things like cry,” he says.

The 35-year-old Shimomura stands outside his newly opened, white-walled storefront, eyeing a group of patrons taking curious sips of coffees and smoothies infused with droplets of the cure-all taking Tokyo, and the global lifestyle market, by storm: CBD.


Does hemp have a home in Japan?

In recent years, Western countries have been loosening laws surrounding the use and possession of marijuana. The recreational use of the plant is legal in 11 American states, and medicinal usage is permitted in 33. Several European countries have also taken a lenient stance, while others have become havens for drug tourism. In 2018, Canada became the second nation to legalize the plant and allow for a nationwide market.


Japan Among the Worst Places to Have Weed

It was proven again this week that Japan is among the absolute worst places you can live if you’re a cannabis enthusiast, never mind a tourist, as the story of a father and son from Nara Prefecture has started to make the rounds.


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