Japan’s CBD Future Uncertain with New THC Rules

Ginza, Tokyo. and a cannabis leaf

Japan’s CBD Industry Faces New Challenges Amid Government Crackdown

Japan’s emerging CBD industry is under threat as the government introduces stricter regulations on THC levels in CBD products. Recent amendments to Japan's narcotics laws have raised concerns about the future of cannabis-derived products in the country.

The proposed regulations, which are still under public consultation until June 29, aim to enforce a cap on THC content in legal CBD products, setting the limit at an unprecedented 0.001% for oils, with even lower limits for other forms such as beverages.

Implications of New THC Limits

The new THC cap has sparked significant backlash from industry advocates and experts. Toshiki Inoue, the founder of the cannabis brand Chillaxy, predicts that the stringent THC limit will drive nearly 90% of current businesses out of the market, as the majority of existing CBD products in Japan cannot meet this requirement.

The new regulations, possibly coming into effect in October, could stop the fast growth of Japan’s CBD market. This market grew six times from 2019 to 2023, now worth over 24 billion yen (about $150 million).

Government Reforms and Public Reaction

Initially, reforms passed last year aimed to close loopholes related to recreational cannabis and to legalise certain cannabis-derived medicines. These changes were expected to bring more legitimacy to the CBD market. However, the recent details of the proposed THC limits have dampened optimism, leading to widespread criticism from both domestic and international experts.

Industry advocate Roger Nakazawa pointed out the challenges laboratories face in accurately detecting such low THC levels, warning that overly stringent rules could drive the market underground, posing risks to public health.

Consumer Concerns and Industry Outlook

Consumers who use CBD products for various health conditions, including cancer and chronic pain, have started a petition against the proposed limits. They argue that the new regulations would severely impact their quality of life.

The government's move to legalise cannabis-derived medicines appears to be limited to highly regulated pharmaceuticals, such as Epidiolex for severe epilepsy, leaving recreational users with fewer options.

Despite the challenges, Inoue and Nakazawa remain hopeful that ongoing public opposition will lead to revisions of the proposed regulations. Nakazawa emphasises the importance of striking a balance between regulation and market potential, advocating for rules that ensure safety without stifling the industry.

Personal Perspective

As an observer of Japan's evolving cannabis policy, I find the government's approach to be a critical turning point for the industry. While the need for regulation is undeniable, it is crucial that these regulations are both realistic and conducive to market growth.

The proposed THC limits seem excessively stringent and could hinder the industry's progress. It is my hope that a balanced, informed approach will prevail, allowing Japan's CBD market to thrive while ensuring consumer safety.

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Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

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