Japan’s parliament has made a groundbreaking decision to legalise medicines derived from cannabis.
This change, approved in the upper house, allows for the use of cannabis-based medical products, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
The new laws, effective within a year, categorise cannabis and THC (a psychoactive chemical in cannabis) as regulated narcotics. While this permits medical use, it also strengthens Japan’s strict stance on cannabis.
Patients seeking cannabis-based medicines, particularly those containing non-psychoactive CBD, have reason to celebrate. CBD is already used globally to treat conditions like severe epilepsy.
Tougher rules for recreational use
To address a rise in cannabis-related arrests, Japan has closed legal loopholes. Previously, inhaling marijuana was technically legal, but possession could lead to up to five years in jail.
The revised laws now impose harsher penalties, with people caught using or possessing marijuana facing potential prison sentences of up to seven years.
Authorities are responding to a surge in cannabis-related arrests, especially among young people. The government hopes these changes will deter the growing trend of marijuana abuse.
Japan’s CBD market, valued at $59 million in 2019, has flourished. The new laws leave CBD products unregulated, focusing on THC—the substance that causes a ‘high.’
There are now two types of licenses for growing cannabis—one for medicinal purposes and another for applications like hemp. These changes will take effect two years after the announcement.
Japan’s anti-cannabis laws, dating back to 1948, have long stigmatised marijuana. The global trend of strict drug penalties in Asia aligns with Japan’s historical stance.