Japan is in complete denial of any benefit medical marijuana could possibly hold to any patients at all. The plant is considered a demon worse than any other substance, and even has its own set of prohibiting laws. Furthermore, social bullying in the media can easily rear its ugly head at anyone who dares to have anything good to say about medicinal cannabis. Worst of all, the long and rich history of hemp production in Japan seems forgotten over night.
Former actress and medical marijuana supporter arrested
After the “scandal” of her arrest, the retired actress Saya Takagi has been demonized by media hearsay, with reports implying she is a woman of loose morals, having two men as lovers, who were also arrested. All shows she appeared in were withdrawn from networks, and even a theme song she helped to write was recalled.
The Japan Times reports the only facts mentioned by the tabloids were quotes from the police. Other dailies followed the lead, and took the arrest to “town” with some blatantly uninformed statements. One article claims it is still illegal in the US and might be less addictive than cocaine or heroine, then quotes a Japanese health ministry official saying there is no “definition for medical use” of marijuana in Japan.
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World Health Organization
The most celebrated faux pas was a statement that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not acknowledge the medicinal value of cannabis, and in fact points to its “harmful effects”. In the meantime, the WHO supports research into the pharmacological benefit of cannabinoids.
These statements are apparently motivated by funding rather than ignorance, and are political rather than scientific. The media didn’t cover any of former health minister and New Renaissance Party leader Yoichi Masuzoe’s speeches advocating research into medical marijuana, but ample media time was given to an alleged pot smoker who murdered dozens of disabled people.
Marijuana has its own peculiar legal status in Japan as explained in Hideo Nagayoshi’s book “Taima Nyumon” – “An Introduction to Cannabis”, the Hemp Control Law (HCL) is separate from the Narcotics Control Law (NLC). The GHQ implemented the HCL during the American Occupation after World War II. Why was marijuana not just added to the NCL, as the law was already in place at the time? Was it because it would criminalize the use of marijuana, but was not restrictive enough?
Hemp was a flourishing industry not too long ago
Hemp has been used in Japan for making textiles and pulp for many centuries, and was once a commercially vital crop. Some speculate that Japan is simply following China’s example. This is a very sad and sorry state of affairs, as medicinal marijuana has been a traditional cure in China for centuries, and a knowledge base can potentially be lost forever.
The law in Japan is so pedantic, that in theory, it even covers use of cannabis outside of Japan. A Japanese snowboarder recently admitted smoking cannabis at a camp in Colorado last year, and he and another snowboarder were not only suspended by the relevant sports associations, but were investigated by the Japanese police.
A hemp farmer was arrested last month for possession of marijuana after Japan’s first lady recommended his product and promoted it as ecologically and economically important.
Lack of medical marijuana investigation is laziness
As a sports personality remarked, Japanese coverage of marijuana has been “lazy” except when it comes to a witch-hunt. Then there is action.