Japanese health officials propose to allow import of medical cannabis

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Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in late September that it supported an amendment to the country’s drug law, known as the Cannabis Control Act. The agency has expressed the need to allow the importation and authorization of cannabis for medical purposes.

Medical cannabis would be regulated like pharmaceutical products and “would apply to cannabis-based products whose safety and efficacy have been confirmed by laws governing pharmaceutical products and medical devices” such as Epidiolex or Sativex.

According to documents released Sept. 29 by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, a large number of people contributed to the review and recommendations, including professors and medical professionals. According to the report, only 1.4% of Japanese say they have ever used cannabis.

In March 2019, Epidiolex began undergoing clinical trials in Japan. At the time, the country claimed to have 3,000 residents with Dravet syndrome and 4,300 with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two severe forms of epilepsy.

In its current form, the Cannabis Control Act limits any form of progress in cannabis, including hemp, despite its common history.

In January 2021, the Industrial Hemp Association of Hokkaido (HIHA) issued a statement regarding the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s investigation into cannabis and other drugs.

“The Cannabis Control Act is a deeply unreasonable law that restricts all cannabis regardless of the amount or even the presence of THC and even prohibits the cultivation of hemp from overseas that does not contain any of these substances,” writes HIHA.

“First of all, with regard to the Cannabis Control Law and the problems related to its application, we would like to recommend the development of a more reasonable law formulated on the basis of discussions made public to the citizens of Japan and based on scientific knowledge. »

The HIHA concluded that the Cannabis Control Act has prevented the hemp industry from thriving since it was enacted in 1948.

“In order to develop a hemp industry on par with those overseas and to protect national interests regarding industrial hemp, this country must revise the Cannabis Control Act and other related laws as soon as possible, position the hemp industry appropriately within the legal system, and strike a balance between drug control and industry encouragement. »

In August 2021, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare released a report detailing its recommendations for authorizing medical cannabis for patients. Earlier in the year, in May, the ministry met again to continue the discussion on medical cannabis, addressing the need for treatment for those who misuse cannabis and how to treat the youth consumption.

In December 2021, gaming company Capcom partnered with Osaka Prefectural Police to use its fictional character Ace Attorney to campaign against youth cannabis use. According to Japan’s National Police Agency, 5,482 people were caught violating the country’s cannabis law (4,537 were in possession of cannabis, while 273 were selling the plant illegally and 230 were arrested for illegal cultivation).

Beatles band member Paul McCartney was banned from Japan for 11 years for having 250 grams of cannabis with him in 1980.

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