In the Japanese House of Councillors, the Amended Cannabis Control Law, which allows the use of medicines derived from cannabis plants while also incorporating a prohibition on use to prevent abuse by young people, was passed with a majority vote on December 6, 2023. This amendment permits the use of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals and also legalizes the cultivation of cannabis plants for the purpose of pharmaceutical material extraction.
However, to prevent abuse, especially among youth, the law positions cannabis as a “narcotic” under the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act and incorporates a prohibition on its use, in addition to already forbidden acts like possession and transfer.
The revision was prompted by an increase in cannabis-related arrests and a trend of increasing abuse among young people.
Particularly noteworthy is the approval of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals. This opens up new treatment options for patients with conditions like intractable epilepsy. For example, 8-year-old Honoka, the daughter of Mikoto Nagatomo living in Ota Ward, Tokyo, suffers from a type of intractable epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome. The legalization of medicines derived from cannabis holds the promise of expanding treatment options for her condition.
Professor Masahiko Funada of Shonan Medical University emphasizes the importance of applying penalties for use to prevent abuse among the youth. He also notes that while CBD from cannabis will be available for medical use, the hurdle of incorporating it into daily life remains high, requiring thoughtful consideration of how it will be used.
This legislative amendment marks an important step in allowing the use of CBD in medicines while also aiming to prevent misuse among young people.