Japan’s Changes to Likely Restrict Cannabinoid Production to Medical Hemp Only

The Future of CBD and Hemp in Japan

Japan’s House of Representatives just passed an amendment that could significantly impact the CBD and hemp industry in the country. The amendment aims to loosen restrictions on hemp while tightening regulations on marijuana, paving the way for the production of medical-grade cannabinoids.

What the Amendment Means

The key provision of the amendment will allow the production of medical-grade cannabinoids, but restricts it to products derived from industrial hemp, not marijuana. There is uncertainty around whether the law will legalize the import and sales of over-the-counter extracts and other products made from hemp plant’s flowers, primarily CBD.

Current rules in Japan only allow products made from hemp seeds or stalks, but a CBD market worth over $60 million has developed, mainly from products produced from hemp flowers.

Industry Growth and Challenges

With as many as 150 companies involved in the CBD trade in Japan, the market has been booming. However, with the introduction of new hemp-derived psychoactive substances, the CBD market saw a decline. Health authorities cracked down on these products, which led to a shift away from CBD by consumers.

The Impact on GW Pharmaceuticals

If the amendment is enacted, it could be a major win for medical CBD maker GW Pharmaceuticals. The company has conducted clinical trials in Japan for its Epidiolex high-concentration CBD product, which has shown promise in treating childhood epileptic patients. Epidiolex already has market approval in Europe and the U.S.

Legal Changes and Opposition

In addition to changes affecting hemp-derived cannabinoids, the amendment would also reclassify THC as a narcotic and close a loophole in the current drug laws. It would also introduce regulations for setting a maximum THC level in hemp products.

Opposition parties, citizen groups, and other organizations are against the reclassification of marijuana use as a crime, arguing that it goes against the global drug policy.

Looking to the Future

As the amendment moves forward to the Japan’s House of Councillors and the cabinet for approval, the potential impact on the CBD and hemp industry in Japan could be substantial. If enacted, the amendment could open up new opportunities while posing challenges for industry players.

Japan’s Cannabis Control Act, established under American occupation, is set to undergo significant changes, and the effects of these changes are likely to reverberate through the CBD and hemp market in Japan and beyond.

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