Japan Amends Cannabis Law


Japan, known for its strict stance on cannabis, has recently made a significant move towards cannabis reform. Japan Amends its Cannabis Control Law, paving the way for the establishment of a medical cannabis and industrial hemp industry. This development brings new opportunities for businesses and investors and could potentially boost Japan’s CBD market.

In this article, we will delve into the key changes in Japan’s cannabis laws and explore the potential implications for the country’s cannabis industry.

The Amended Cannabis Control Act

In late October 2023, the Japanese government approved a bill to amend the nearly 75-year-old Cannabis Control Act. Renaming it the ‘Law Concerning Regulation of the Cultivation of Cannabis Plants. The bill was subsequently passed by the House of Representatives on November 14, 2023.

Opening Doors for Medical Cannabis

One of the most significant changes brought about by the amendment is the legalization of pharmaceutical products containing cannabis-derived ingredients for domestic use.

This revision marks a significant shift in the government’s attitude towards cannabis and opens up the possibility of a medical cannabis market in Japan.

Impact on CBD and Industrial Hemp

The amendment also has implications for Japan’s already thriving CBD market.

Currently, Japan allows the importation and sale of CBD and other hemp-derived products, as long as they contain no observable levels of THC and are derived from stalks and seeds. As well as, being derived from stalks and seeds. However, the revised law will allow for the importation of products derived from the flower, leaves, or resin. As long as they fall within the newly defined THC limit.

Japan’s CBD market has been growing steadily, with a wide range of products available, including edibles, topicals, and vape products.

Approximately 120 to 150 companies are estimated to be involved in importing, manufacturing, and distributing CBD products in the country. The amendment is expected to further expand the market, providing opportunities for manufacturers, and attracting more investors. The regulation of THC and the closure of loopholes are key aspects of this development.

Regulating THC and Closing Loopholes

Under the new law, THC will be classified as a narcotic under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Control Act. Additionally, the amendment will close a loophole in the Cannabis Control Act, which currently lacks a specific reference to the “use” of cannabis but imposes strict penalties for importing, exporting, cultivating, transferring, or possessing cannabis products.

While the amendment has received support from some quarters, opposition parties, citizens groups, and organizations have expressed concerns about the criminalization of cannabis use. They argue that global drug policy has shifted from criminalization to harm reduction. Thus, many believe the new criminal offenses go against this trend.

Defining Permitted THC Levels and Promoting Hemp Cultivation

In the coming months, we expect the Japanese government to establish the permitted levels of THC in cannabis-derived products. This clarification will provide guidance for manufacturers and further boost confidence in the market.

Furthermore, the amendment also includes provisions to establish a framework for promoting hemp cultivation within Japan. Currently reliant on imports, Japan aims to increase self-sufficiency by issuing two types of grower licenses. The first license allows farmers to grow and harvest industrial hemp, while the second license permits cannabis production for medical or pharmaceutical use. This move could reduce Japan’s dependence on imports and revive its historical tradition of hemp cultivation.

The Road Ahead

The amendment to Japan’s Cannabis Control Act marks a significant step towards cannabis reform in the country. With the legalization of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, the potential for a medical cannabis market, and the expansion of the CBD industry, Japan is embarking on a new frontier in the cannabis and hemp sector.

However, it is important to note that the amended law also introduces new criminal penalties for unauthorized cannabis use. The government’s aim is to strike a balance between promoting the benefits of cannabis-derived medicines and addressing concerns about cannabis abuse, particularly among young people.

As the government continues to fine-tune regulations and define permitted THC levels. Businesses and investors are eagerly eyeing the Japanese cannabis market. The potential for growth and innovation in the medical cannabis and CBD sectors is immense. As well as, the amended law sets the stage for a promising future.


Japan amends its Cannabis Control Law represents a significant shift in the country’s approach to cannabis. The legalization of cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals and the opening up of the CBD market have the potential to revolutionize the medical and industrial sectors. While challenges and concerns remain, the amended law provides a framework for the development of a robust and regulated cannabis industry in Japan. As the country moves forward. It will be fascinating to witness the growth and impact of the emerging medical cannabis and hemp market in Japan.

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