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Japanese health ministry moves to legalize medical cannabis

The health ministry is moving to legalize cannabis for medical use in the treatment of epilepsy in Japan while adding a new legal provision to criminalize its usage for adult-use purposes. 

Its expert panel met on September 29 to discuss revisions to the Cannabis Control Law, which was enacted in 1948. Ministry officials expect an amendment bill will be submitted to the ordinary Diet session next year. The Cannabis Control Law prohibits the cultivation and possession of cannabis as well as the manufacturing of medicines made from it. 

Panel members cited, among other things, a recent spike in cases of cannabis possession, notably among young people, and pushed for the use of cannabis to be criminalized as well.

Some panel members called for more extensive treatment to be made available for those addicted to cannabis rather than imposing penalties and making social rehabilitation more difficult for them.

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