History of CBD and Cannabis: Japan

by in CBD Information December 6, 2019

Located in East Asia off the Pacific Ocean, Japan is infamous for its harsh crackdowns on all forms of drug crime. All drug use is seen as a moral failure that may result in the degradation of delicate social order – in fact, those caught using marijuana have likely ruined their careers, family relations, and chances of ever escaping the punitive eye of law enforcement.


For decades, Japan’s attitude towards cannabis crime has been the result of a highly image-conscious culture and governmental style.

Cannabis, CBD, and Japan

Since 1948, cannabis has been completely illegal in Japan for recreational, medical, and industrial purposes. As a fairly conservative nation, those caught merely possessing marijuana may incur punishment of up to five years prison time in addition to a hefty fine.


It’s been estimated that cultivation of marijuana has occurred in Japan since the pre-Neolithic era, or about twelve thousand years ago. In the early era, cannabis and hemp were both used for their fibrous and nutritious qualities. Archeological evidence has demonstrated that hemp was used for crafting ropes, ship building materials, and food.


That said, it’s not clear whether cannabis was ever used for psychoactive or ritualistic purposes thousands of years ago.

Hemp Grown Illegally in Japan

For hundreds of years, both hemp and cannabis remained unchallenged staples of Japanese life. The country has an extremely diverse climate and topology that lends itself well to cannabis cultivation in the South subtropical region. In the hot, humid summers, hemp cultivation shifted up from the Southern portion of the country to the East.


Moreover, many areas in Japan are rocky and mountainous, yet interspersed with small plateaus that are perfect for small cannabis cultivation schemes. After all, it’s hard for law enforcement to patrol rural, hard to reach locations.


Cannabis law first started to restrict in the thirties and only grew increasingly punitive in the late forties. Most cannabis law restrictions occurred due to mounting international pressure and the power of non-governmental Narcotics regulations.

Marijuana Use in Japan

Nowadays, cannabis use rates remain low throughout all of the country. The plant ranks behind amphetamines and heroin in terms of annual per capita consumption rates, due in part to widespread eradication enacted by the government. However, yearly raid rates have continued to increase annually ever since the 2000s. It’s unclear whether or not enforcement has grown or the amount of cannabis illicitly trafficked has increased – it may be a combination of both factors.


Typically, cannabis is consumed by uneducated, young, and urban residents in major city centers. Interestingly, as the government continues eradication and punitive measures, the prices of cannabis in local markets surges. As prices surge, more growers and sellers actively look for inroads into the industry. In some ways, the government has made cannabis a more highly sought after substance than it would be without such strict degrees of legal enforcement.

CBD Legal Status at Odds With the Strict Marijuana Laws

Though it may seem strange, CBD is completely legal in Japan. Many believe this is because Japan has a top heavy population of older vs. younger, and as the population ages, experts are hopeful that CBD and natural health remedies could ease the aging populations’ looming health crisis.


Many in Japan legitimately fear that opiate and over the counter drug abuse will become an even greater threat as the next generation encounters physical health problems. Because CBD oil offers relief and help to that generation, CBD manufactured from industrially crafted hemp is completely legal to buy and sell in Japan. CBD treatments can be marketed, sold, distributed, and consumed publicly with no fear of interference from law enforcement. In fact, CBD is closely regulated by Japan’s health ministry and inspected for its quality. CBD products in Japan are properly labelled, regulated, and third party tested for quality assurance.

Author: Leafwindow Team

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