Japan may soon allow the import and use of medicinal cannabis products.
A Japanese health ministry panel on Thursday recommended amending the country’s drug laws in an effort to meet both citizens’ medical needs as well as evolving international standards, the committee said in a report. Under the recommended revision, medical cannabis products would be subject to the same safety and efficacy laws governing medical and pharmaceutical standards.
While cultivating, importing, selling, and possessing cannabis are all currently criminal offenses in Japan, consumption is legal. CBD products produced from stalk or seeds, specifically, are also legal.
The panel also noted in its report that only 1.4% of Japanese citizens had ever consumed cannabis, compared to 20-40% in Western countries. A Gallup Poll published in August indicated nearly half (48%) of U.S. adults report ever having tried cannabis.
While Japan may consider medical cannabis legislation, its stance towards adult-use cannabis remains strict. Japanese authorities made 5,482 cannabis-related arrests in 2021, more than triple the amount of cannabis arrests made in 2014, according to Statista.
Across Asia, cannabis policies and views vary.
South Korea, for example, legalized medical cannabis in November 2018, and Thailand did the same a month later in December 2018. Thailand went a step further in legalizing adult-use cannabis this past June, becoming the first Asian country to do so at a federal level.
In contrast, Indonesian courts in July rejected a judicial review of the country’s narcotics laws and potential medical cannabis legalization. Cannabis also remains illegal in China.