Fakkuappu: Japan Struggles with Cannabis Reform

High Times

Every country that creates new laws for a not-to-be stopped global cannabis revolution has faced problems when trying to implement “new” regulations—and so far, the Japanese are no exception. This year, indeed, has seen repeated flubs and embarrassing false starts that so far, have run into significant problems when it gets to the nitty gritty details.  This begins with the fact that despite increased liberalization just about everywhere else, the Japanese appear to be going backwards in terms of cannabis reform. Namely, as of June 11, a health ministry panel stated that (high THC) cannabis use will be criminalized (due to concerns about “young people’s ‘abuse’” of the drug).  In the meantime, cannabis-derived medications (which are currently restricted in Japan), will be permitted, including by import. Beyond this, however, even legal hemp farmers are not entirely out of the woods. A History of Cannabis Reform in Japan  The current Japanese law on cannabis was enacted right after WWII, in 1948.  Up until this time, cannabis was a valued part of culture and religion of the country. After 1948, thanks to the American occupation, the Cannabis Control Act essentially copied American legal attitudes of the time. It was only thanks to the direct intervention of the Emperor that the hemp industry was saved from complete extinction. Namely, the hemp industry was allowed to flourish as a permitted industry. Sadly, however, hemp farmer numbers have steadily dwindled since the 1950s thanks to the expense of obtaining a license and, until now at least, a receding demand for natural fibres. Beyond limited commercial production, the current law prohibits the possession and cultivation of “cannabis.” Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, was banned from entering Japan for 11 years after being busted for bringing just under eight ounces of marijuana with him on a visit…

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