Japan recently approved a measure that would legalize cannabis-based drugs. The country, which has strict drug laws, plans to lift a ban on medical products derived from marijuana. These drugs, which are produced with CBD, are already used in some countries to manage conditions such as epilepsy.
CBD, or cannabidiol in full, is one of the two primary compounds found in marijuana. The other compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is known to induce a high when ingested.
This move by Japan is a win for groups that have championed for access to these drugs. The country’s Cannabis Control Act was introduced during the post-war United States occupation in 1948.
A survey on marijuana use conducted in Japan found that only 1.4% of individuals in the country had tried the drug. This figure is quite low, especially when compared to data from the United States showing 50% of the population have tried using marijuana and 40% have tried the drug in France.
Despite this move forward, the recreational use of marijuana has now been criminalized. Officials attributed the toughening of this ban on the recent increase in marijuana-related arrests.
Before the revision was made, inhaling cannabis had technically been legal, based on a loophole introduced so farmers wouldn’t be arrested for inhaling psychoactive smoke accidentally while cultivating hemp. However, following the recent rise in arrests over marijuana, particularly among the young, authorities decided to make changes to the law. Under the revised regulations, any individual found in the possession of marijuana or caught using the drug will face a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
Figures from the country’s health ministry show that the number of arrests made two years ago in relation to marijuana was 5,783, observing a significant increase among teenagers and youth in their twenties. Additionally, a police probe conducted on more than 700 individuals who were arrested based on cannabis possession found that almost 30% of them felt the lack of penalties against consuming marijuana gave them courage to thwart the law.
After the measure was approved in parliament, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno stated that the government hoped this revision would help curb the trend of more young people abusing cannabis.
It should be noted that the revised law will enter into effect a year from promulgation. Under this law, marijuana and THC are categorized as narcotics to be regulated. Additionally, two kinds of licenses for cultivating marijuana will be established: one for purposes such as hemp and the other for parties that grow the plant to make medicine.
The easing of marijuana laws in Japan is likely to be welcomed as a step in the right direction by industry players such as Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) (TSX: WEED), which see this as a victory for progressive-minded people around the world.
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