Cannabis in Japan is very illegal, and despite the country’s rich cannabis culture and history, it has adopted one of the harshest cannabis laws among developed nations.
Medical cannabis in Japan
Like any other country, Japan needs a medical cannabis system. And it may even need this system more than the others do.
Just picture this: Japan suffers from a rapidly aging population that is made worse by its declining birthrate. Add to that the fact that there is a record number of people with cancer who are refusing chemotherapy out of fear of complications. In other words, they would rather die instead of suffer from cancer treatment side effects that could very well be alleviated by medical cannabis.
However, the Japanese government’s cannabis laws remain steadfastly unforgiving, even when it comes to medical marijuana.
Take for instance the case of 58-year-old Masamitsu Yamamoto, who had terminal liver cancer. Yamamoto was arrested when he was found with 200 grams of weed. He never had any troubles with the law in the past, but he was using cannabis as his last option after all the modern medical treatments he tried had failed. All Yamamoto said was that he wanted to be saved.
According to a High Times report, Yamamoto attested that when he started using cannabis, his condition improved and the levels of tumor markers found in his blood fell significantly. He also said that he grew his own cannabis plant and never sold it to anymore.
Yamamoto fought the charge against him and urged the government to consider the issue, especially in light of public health. However, Yamamoto’s condition worsened after his arrest and he died before he could see his trial end. With that, the question on whether patients can use medical cannabis as part of their treatment plan remains unanswered.
The good thing, though, is that Yamamoto’s case inspired the medical marijuana movement in the country to do more. Advocacy groups like Japan Medical Marijuana Association and Taima Houdou Center are working towards a reform of the current legislation as well as towards educating patients and their families about the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Loophole in the law
A loophole in Japan’s cannabis laws was discovered and this loophole allows for CBD, which is the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, to be imported to and then consumed in Japan. The law only prohibits the use of the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. CBD, however, is extracted from the plant’s stalk.
The head member of Taima Houdou Center, Kazuhiko Shirasaka, was the one who found this CBD loophole. Shirasaka is awaiting trial for cannabis possession, but he plans to fight his case on the basis of marijuana’s medicinal properties.
The importance of educating the Japanese people
Advocacy groups acknowledge that educating the people is the best way to move forward. By informing the people about the benefits of cannabis, they will be able to break through the wall of oppression. This is also the reason why the government is doing everything to suppress information regarding cannabis.
For now, there is very little literature about cannabis that people can access and there are also no documentaries they could watch. Moreover, the mainstream media outlets refuse to feature and cover any news related to cannabis, including the wave of cannabis legalization going on all over the world.
Read Part 1 of our article here.