Cannabidiol’s popularity isn’t limited to the West. Interest in CBD is growing around the world, including in Japan. Japanese law prohibits recreational cannabis, but certain types of CBD are allowed.
Many jurisdictions that legalize CBD focus on hemp-derived rather than cannabis-derived plant matter. This is because hemp naturally contains significantly less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than regular cannabis plants.
However, Japan’s law works differently. The country’s Cannabis Control Act forbids the use of cannabis flowers and leaves but makes and exceptions for the plant’s stems and seeds. Even in cannabis plants rich in THC, most of the psychoactive compound is concentrated in the flowers. The stems contain almost no THC. CBD is legal in Japan if it has zero THC and is created from cannabis stems or seeds.
Yet, Japan may be relaxing its rules regarding cannabis overall. The government recently paved the way for cannabis-based medication. The nation’s hemp growers expressed hope that the new regulations would lead to greater freedom in the industry.
“The release of medical cannabis is good news for patients, and opens the road to research development and raw material production,” said Harumi Kikuchi of the Hokkaido Industrial Hemp Association (HIHA).
“But we are also looking forward to the discussion of the revision of the cannabis control law that allows expansion of the cultivation of industrial cannabis.”
Earlier this year, the HIHA issued a four-page letter describing Japan’s Cannabis Control Act as “outdated” and asking for updated law. Specifically, the organization wants permission to sell hemp flowers and leaves.
“It is unreasonable to prohibit the use of flowers or leaves not containing THC, and this element of the law should be abolished,” the association wrote.
If Japan does revise its law to allow CBD from hemp plants rather than just the stems, it would open the market to foreign brands.
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