Japan's New Horizon: Embracing Medical Cannabis - One World Legends

Japan's New Horizon: Embracing Medical Cannabis

On Wednesday, Japan's parliament passed a significant reform that allows the use of medical products derived from cannabis. This new policy not only legalizes certain cannabis-based medications but also introduces harsh penalties for using cannabis products that aren't approved.


Previously, the lower house of Japan's parliament had endorsed this reform, aiming to allow the import, prescription, and consumption of specific products like Epidiolex, a medication derived from cannabis used to treat severe epilepsy. This drug is already accessible in pharmacies across various nations and has provided considerable relief to many patients globally. A 2019 study highlighted that epilepsy affects approximately 6.9 out of 1000 people in Japan, with the condition becoming more common in older individuals due to age-related diseases.


The upper house, the House of Councilors, gave its approval to this reform today, with a significant part of the legislation focusing on the strict ban on using cannabis products that haven't been sanctioned.


Under the new law, consuming unauthorized cannabis products could lead to a prison sentence of up to seven years. Japan already has strict regulations against possessing non-industrial hemp cannabis, and it remains to be seen how this new law against consumption will be enforced.


A similar law exists in Idaho, USA, where being publicly intoxicated by cannabis can result in up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. Enforcement there is based on an officer's 'reasonable suspicion,' which allows for testing even without evidence of possession at the interaction time. This subjective enforcement method is something cannabis advocates globally strive to avoid, arguing that it's nearly impossible to prevent biased enforcement under such policies.


Japan's stricter stance on cannabis use follows concerns by lawmakers about increasing consumption and arrest rates for cannabis possession, especially among young adults. The latest data shows a 21.5% increase in cannabis use in Japan from the previous year. While this surge might seem concerning, it's important to note that less than 2% of Japan's population reports ever using cannabis. This is in stark contrast to countries like Canada and the USA, where 41.5% and 44.2% of the population, respectively, report having used cannabis. The significant rise in Japan's cannabis use is more a reflection of its previously low baseline rather than an indication of widespread usage.


Source: International CBC