The environment surrounding “marijuana” in this country may change drastically -.
When people hear the word “marijuana” in Japan, most of them think of negative images such as “drugs,” “danger,” “addiction,” and “arrest.
There are two types of marijuana: medical marijuana, which is used in the medical field, and marijuana-derived products, which are used in health foods and oils. In addition, hemp is a plant that has been associated with society and daily life in Japan since ancient times, and was used as a raw material for clothing and was essential for rituals. Hemp was also used as a raw material for clothing and was essential for rituals.
Despite this, in Japan, the focus is still on marijuana as a drug, and the image of marijuana as evil continues to linger. Every year, celebrities and artists are arrested for possession of marijuana and it is widely reported, thus creating the image that “marijuana equals evil.
In the midst of all this, did you know that there has been a lively debate about marijuana in Japan since the beginning of this year?
“Groundbreaking debate to approve pharmaceuticals
On June 11, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) held the “Study Group on Countermeasures for Marijuana and Other Drugs. The report summarizing the results of the meeting has been the subject of much discussion.
The most noteworthy was the proposal to create a crime of using marijuana, but I will leave that to a later section. First of all, it is important to know that the report of the study group included a policy to lift the ban on the use of medicines made from marijuana plants.
Until now, Japan has not allowed the importation of medicines made from cannabis plants in principle. However, the report concluded that, in addition to “importing medicines from overseas,” “the manufacture and sale of medicines as well as their use in Japan should be allowed” with the approval of the government.
A reporter from the social affairs section of a national newspaper explains the background to this change.
“In December last year, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) decided to remove marijuana from the list of ‘highly addictive and potentially abusive drugs. The United Nations was forced to change its perception of cannabis because of the increasing use of cannabis ingredients in the medical field around the world. Against the backdrop of this decision by the UN, discussions on medical marijuana and other issues were also promoted in Japan.
The main ingredients extracted from marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has hallucinogenic effects, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has no antipsychotic effects. The THC-containing cannabis for recreational use (generally marijuana) has the effect of getting you high. On the other hand, the latter, which does not have anti-psychoactive properties, has been shown to have relaxing and therapeutic effects, and has been recognized to suppress depression and anxiety, as well as help with insomnia.
Both THC and CBD are being researched for use as “medical marijuana,” but the medical marijuana that is being discussed in Japan to allow importation, production, and use is essentially limited to CBD.
“As CBD has a pain-relieving effect, it is expected to be used and researched for palliative care of cancer if cannabis-derived medicines are approved in Japan.
The use of medical marijuana is becoming more and more common in the medical and health fields worldwide, which means that “the use of medical marijuana” is finally becoming a reality in Japan. The National Diet of Japan is expected to actively debate the issue with the aim of amending the law as early as next spring.
Prior to the medical use of marijuana, CBD-containing oil products and food products have been gaining attention in Japan due to their relaxing effects, and are showing signs of becoming popular (THC-free oil and food products made from marijuana stems and seeds can be sold and purchased in Japan).
As the use of medical marijuana becomes more widespread and the image of marijuana in Japan changes, those involved are hoping that the use of marijuana as an edible and health product will grow synergistically.
“Our association has been working for more than 20 years based on the concept that although marijuana is considered a drug, it is a plant that is good for the environment and can be used for everything from paper to medicine. If the government approves the use of medical marijuana this time, we hope that the Japanese people’s image of marijuana will change.
Prejudice” surrounding marijuana
Along with the change in the image of marijuana, it is expected that the environment for growers will improve.
As mentioned above, hemp (marijuana) has been an indispensable plant for daily life in Japan since ancient times. In some periods, it was used as a raw material for common people’s clothes, and in some religious ceremonies, it has played an indispensable role. This can be imagined from the fact that the character for “hemp” is often used in Japanese names.
In Japan, marijuana cultivation was popular about 100 years ago, but after the war, under the guidance of the GHQ, which feared the spread of drug use in Japanese society, the “Marijuana Control Law” was enacted in 1948, and marijuana production in Japan rapidly declined. In 1954, there were about 40,000 marijuana growers, but now there are only about 30. They grow mostly THC-free seeds of marijuana, which are mostly used for rituals and folk art.
They grow marijuana with permission from the government, but the reality is that some local governments have imposed strict restrictions on the cultivation of marijuana, such as requiring the cultivation area to be heavily guarded to prevent theft and installing surveillance cameras. Not so long ago, inaccurate information such as “entering a field where marijuana is grown will cause symptoms like intoxication” was spread, and farmers who continued to cultivate marijuana were placed in a difficult situation.
For these farmers and researchers of marijuana cultivation, it would be a great thing to see a better understanding of marijuana in society as a whole.
In fact, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) is slowly beginning to show a more flexible stance, perhaps in response to the changing world.
“In September of this year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued a notice to prefectures to ‘relax restrictions beyond reasonable guidance’ regarding strict regulations such as the installation of surveillance cameras and fences in fields. The farmers, prefectures, and the MHLW are expected to discuss how marijuana cultivation should be handled. I hope it will be eased a little…” (One of the marijuana farmers)
“Concerns about the introduction of the “crime of use
While a full-scale debate on marijuana is taking place, there are many people who are concerned about the possibility of further prejudice against marijuana. It may sound contradictory to the trend of lifting the ban on medical marijuana, but the MHLW’s study committee has proposed the creation of a “crime of use,” which would impose penalties for the use of marijuana.
This may require some explanation. A reporter from the Social Affairs Department explains.
“In the past, the Marijuana Control Law only applied to those who ‘possessed, cultivated, transferred, imported or exported marijuana. If you watch the news carefully, you will see that all the people who were arrested for marijuana-related offenses were not arrested for “using marijuana” but for “possessing, growing, or giving marijuana”.
There is a debate going on about whether or not the use of hallucinogenic marijuana products should also be subject to arrest. Until now, there has been no penalty for the use of marijuana itself. If the law is amended, people will be arrested for using marijuana and other drugs in the future.
At first glance, one might think that it would be better to have a “crime of use” in order to prevent drug abuse and proliferation. However, experts say that
“Marijuana is not as addictive as methamphetamine. Arresting someone for using marijuana is too serious a crime.
I am a law professor at Rissho University. Yasuhiro Maruyama, a professor at Rissho University’s Faculty of Law and an expert on domestic and international drug policy, explains.
“There are several reasons for this. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that there is no evidence that the number of marijuana users will decrease as a result of the imposition of a crime of use, and the fact that international efforts are focused on supporting the recovery of those who have used marijuana, rather than penalizing users. In the first place, the international consensus is that ‘most users do not use at a level that would cause a serious problem.
Considering this, the debate on the creation of a crime of use is going against the global trend.
Will harsher penalties reduce the number of users? If we really want to reduce the number of users, wouldn’t it be more effective to focus on helping those who have used marijuana to recover so that they will never use again? It is inexplicable that people are discussing the introduction of the crime of using marijuana without such a discussion. I can’t help but think that they are trying to introduce the crime of use in order to say, ‘We’re going to introduce medical marijuana, but it doesn’t mean you can use it freely, it’s a dangerous drug.
If a “crime of using marijuana” is established, the image of “marijuana = evil” will surely become even more entrenched than it is now.
Research on the “evils” of marijuana
To further complicate the debate over marijuana, the hallucinogenic ingredient THC has been the subject of much research in recent years, offering a variety of perspectives on dependence and addiction.
“This is not to say that marijuana is harmless, but I think we should have an evidence-based debate about how harmful it is and whether it is socially acceptable,” said Yasuhiro Maruyama, the professor mentioned above.
“I don’t mean to imply that hallucinogenic marijuana should be allowed in Japan, but I think that arguments based on the premise that marijuana is incredibly harmful are misguided.
To give an example, in a report ranking the harmfulness of drugs and alcoholic beverages published by the International Commission on Drug Policy, an international NGO whose members include former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (deceased), the top drug in terms of total harmfulness is alcohol, and marijuana is ranked 8th overall.
Also, in a report called “The Harmfulness of Drug Abuse in the UK” published by the Independent Scientific Council, organized by the Nat Professor of Psychopharmacology in the UK, the most harmful was alcohol, and cannabis was 8th from the top, ‘less harmful to the user’ than tobacco.
( https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)61462-6/fulltext )
Still, this is not an argument for banning alcohol in general. ((10)1462-6/fulltext) Still, this doesn’t mean that we should ban alcohol in general, but rather that we should punish people who drink it and cause accidents or crimes. On the other hand, marijuana is moving in the direction of ‘no good when you use it.
It would be understandable if the discussion was based on evidence, but it is inexplicable that the ‘introduction of the crime of use’ and the strengthening of the image of ‘marijuana is evil’ are being promoted without any such discussion.
Such data is sometimes used to argue for the banning of marijuana as a luxury item. Even if you have doubts about this argument, you should at least be aware that some people think it is fair to discuss how harmful and risky marijuana is to society before considering how severe the penalties and regulations should be.
Will the current trend change?
It was mentioned earlier that CBD-derived health foods and oils are currently available in Japan through large mass retailers and mail order. It is almost certain that medical marijuana will be allowed to be used in Japan, and you will notice that the situation surrounding marijuana is much different than it was 10 years ago.
On the other hand, how will the sound of the word “marijuana” be transformed in Japanese society as the debate on stricter penalties continues? It will depend on whether or not each and every person living in Japan can see this issue not as someone else’s problem, but as their own.
It is time to start a serious discussion about what is acceptable and where to draw the line of “out” based on “correct information” and “correct data” while objectively looking at the situation surrounding marijuana around the world.
Courtesy of Meij Foods Co.