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Japan to Permit Medical Cannabis as Suggested by the Japanese Health Ministry.

by Therin Miller | October 5, 2022

According to Reuters, a group appointed by the Japanese health ministry on Thursday recommended reinforcing existing cannabis prohibition legislation as well as allowing the use of cannabis-based medications in the country. Non-medical cannabis usage would still be illegal despite the advice having the potential to bring about a historic change in Japan's zero-tolerance drug regulations.

Japan's government has been considering legalizing cannabis-based medications. The panel recommended that the government adopt such changes. Epidiolex, a prescription for treating epilepsy, is now undergoing clinical trials there, but for patients to get access to it, Japan's cannabis regulations would need to be changed.

In 2021, a record 5,482 persons in Japan were involved in cannabis-related criminal proceedings, up 448 from the year before, with 70% of offenders being 20 years of age or younger, according to National Police Agency data. In 2021, there were 5.6 cannabis-related crimes per 100,000 individuals, more than twice the 3.0 rate from 2017.

According to the law firm Ohara & Furukawa, Japan's Cannabis Control Act makes it illegal to import, export, or cultivate cannabis, and even simple possession may result in a five-year prison term. Possession with the purpose to profit is punished by up to two million yen in fines or seven years in jail.

Cannabis cultivation, importation, or exportation in Japan involves a sentence of up to seven years in jail, and doing any of those things with the intention of profiting carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison.

More than 70% of 829 drug offenders polled by the National Police Agency indicated they didn't think cannabis was hazardous.

In contrast to 20–40% in Western nations, the health ministry survey found that just 1.4% of persons in Japan had ever used cannabis.

According to the study, the panel's suggestion was based on satisfying medical requirements and bringing Japan into compliance with worldwide norms. The changes would apply to cannabis products whose efficacy and safety have been established by legislation governing drugs and medical equipment.


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