Japan has strict regulations when it comes to cannabis and its derivatives. As of 2022, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) has been examining potential legislative reforms concerning cannabis control. The possession of cannabis in Japan, which was criminalized back in 1948, is heavily enforced under the law. However, industrial hemp products are allowed for import with compliance to specific regulations.
Article 4 of the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) clarifies that only MHLW-authorized researchers are permitted to import or export cannabis products. Furthermore, it bans the production, use, and distribution of medicinal products derived from cannabis. Nonetheless, hemp products can be imported under certain conditions and compliance with other relevant laws. The requirements for importing hemp products into Japan involve various documents and clearances, emphasizing the need for thoroughness and legality in these transactions.
The consequences of drug-related offenses in Japan are severe. For instance, driving under the influence of alcohol can result in substantial fines or imprisonment. A blood-alcohol limit of approximately 0.03% is enforced, which is less than the alcohol content in a single glass of beer. The U.S. Embassy in Japan warns of penalties up to $10,000 and/or up to five years in prison for such offenses. In addition, possession of a gun or ammunition is strictly prohibited.
Travelers should be aware that certain substances legal in other countries, including marijuana and some synthetic drugs, remain illegal in Japan. This extends to specific prescription medications that are commonly prescribed in the United States but may not be legal in Japan. Japanese traffic laws hold drivers fully accountable in traffic incidents, reflecting the country’s stringent stance on responsibility and legality.
As the global perspective on cannabis evolves, with regions like Connecticut, South Dakota, Washington DC, and Guam legalizing recreational use, Japan maintains a conservative approach. While medical cannabis is legal in an increasing number of countries, Japan’s stringent regulations reflect a different cultural and legal attitude towards these substances.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to regulate cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including Cannabidiol (CBD), under federal law. This includes the production and marketing of hemp, defined as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant.”
It is crucial for anyone considering traveling to Japan with medications or hemp products to check with Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in advance for guidance and to ensure compliance with Japanese laws.