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Japan Minister Directs Local Governments To Ease Restrictions On Hemp

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Japan is currently home to some of the harshest cannabis laws on planet earth. Currently, possession of cannabis carries a potential prison sentence of up to 5 years in Japan. Also, the cultivation of cannabis carries a potential prison sentence of up to 7 years.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Japan’s health ministry recently created a panel to analyze the nation’s cannabis laws to see if they can be made harsher. The ordered review was apparently in reaction to ‘rising cannabis consumption rates among Japan’s population.’

In 2019 Japan experienced a 21.5% increase in measured cannabis consumption compared to the previous year. That increase may sound alarming to some people, however, it needs to be put into context.

Consider the fact that only 1.8% of people in Japan report as having consumed cannabis at some point during their lifetime. That’s a minuscule number compared to 41.5% in Canada and 44.2% in the United States.

Obviously, it doesn’t take a lot of people consuming cannabis in Japan to spike the consumption rate. Even hemp is treated more harshly in Japan, however, that is thankfully changing. Per Tokyo Web:

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has decided to issue a notice to prefectures in mid-September to ease regulations beyond rational guidance regarding industrial cannabis, whose cultivation method is being discussed. At the same time, from October, a forum for three-party discussions between the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, prefectures, and growers will be set up.

Domestic cannabis growers have obtained licenses from prefectures to cultivate varieties with extremely low content of the hallucinogenic component “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)” and produce fibers for rituals. However, strict regulations on the installation of surveillance cameras and fences in the fields and patrols have become a problem.

When the ministry refers to ‘industrial cannabis’ it is talking about hemp. Hemp is non-psychoactive and does not induce intoxication. It is a useful plant that can do many things.

However, if any country’s hemp industry is bogged down by cumbersome regulations such as has been seen in Japan, it will always be hard times for hemp farmers. Hopefully Japan gets it in gear and trends towards the right side of history sooner rather than later.