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Japan Tightens Cannabis Laws

· Oct 29, 2021
Naoko Miki, co-founder of Green Zone Japan, a nonprofit organization campaigning for the legalization of marijuana, opened up to the New York Times about cannabis reform. “The strategy is ins ...

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While many countries are on track to easing and loosening their laws on cannabis use, it looks like Japan is making it harder than ever to find, grow, and use the plant. The country has recently increased arrests to combat the useful, factual, and beneficial pro-cannabis information from abroad with their own public awareness campaigns and strict laws.

Naoko Miki, co-founder of Green Zone Japan, a nonprofit organization campaigning for the legalization of marijuana, opened up to the New York Times about cannabis reform. “The strategy is inspired by the United States, where news reports about CBD’s efficacy in treating certain types of pediatric epilepsy helped to change people’s minds about cannabis in general and led to widespread legal changes.”

CBD is currently legal in Japan, and it wouldn’t be if it weren’t for a regulatory loophole and the compound’s beneficial qualities that make for an intriguing and experimental product. Analysts in Japan estimate that the annual demand for CBD in the country has the potential to reach $800 million by 2024. “With CBD, a lot of new people who have never been interested in either medical or recreational cannabis are entering the market. It’s like a new door opened,” Miki explained.

Entrepreneurs looking to invest in the “green rush” caused by the accepting laws in North America and Europe are hoping to see some reform in Japan, but unfortunately, it doesn’t look too promising. The country has some of the most strict and harsh cannabis laws in East Asia, which says a lot since the region is known for frowning upon drug use of any kind. Although none of these East Asian countries are remotely close to legalizing recreational cannabis anytime soon, Taiwan and South Korea have both legalized it for medical use after reliable evidence of its benefits.

Interestingly enough, China, the world’s largest producer of industrial and regulated hemp products, is allowed to cultivate CBD but cannot use it. Hemp has a long history in Japan, and in no way was it used to get high (as we know of). It was actually used in Japanese religious rituals and was seen as a symbol of purity. At the end of World War II, Japan’s industrial hemp crops were flourishing, which were later used to make fabric and rope.

However, today, there are only about 20 farmers who have legal licenses to produce hemp crops. These crops are said to be used mostly for shrines, where it will be burned in cleansing rituals or used to make ceremonial knots.