Spain Hemp Museum Unveils New Japanese-Themed Exhibit

The exhibit will be on display following its opening on May 12 through February 2023, and marks a 10th anniversary celebration. Those who live in the neighboring area or are planning a vacation to Spain could slate a few hours on their trip to check out this fascinating collection.

One of the exhibit’s displays tells how ninjas in training would plant a batch of hemp and strive to jump over it every day to improve their jumping skills. Toward the end of the growing season, the ninjas would be able to leap over their hemp plants, which can grow up to three or for meters (approximately between 9-13 feet for American customary units).

“This children’s story is a testament to a time when cannabis was ‘big in Japan’. As spring approached, each rural household would plant four to five furrows of hemp seeds. The cultivated hemp was the family’s main source of fibre, used to weave cloth,” the museum writes on its website. “It was also an important source of income, as city merchants would buy the finer hemp fibres. This silk-like hemp was used to create the most precious clothing, from summer kimonos to samurai attire and the garments of Shinto priests. Every aspect of work involving hemp, from planting to weaving, was women’s labour. This continued throughout the Meiji era, when Japan quickly became an industrialized empire.”

The exhibit teases unique hemp-related haiku poetry from 120 years ago.

gentle rain in the
city carries sunset smell
and the hemp reaping
-Haiku master Masaoka Shiki, 1895.

It also showcases ancient Japanese hemp clothing samples and important artifacts in display cases. This fascinating display is one of a kind, and allows attendees to get a rare first-hand look at the history of hemp as its rich influence on life in 18th century Japan.

Today, Japan’s laws regarding cannabis are much stricter. Although the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, recently met to discuss lifting the ban on medical cannabis, the government is far from embracing legalization. This isn’t the first time government officials have begun to see the benefits of medical cannabis. Back in 2015, Japan’s “First Lady,” Akie Abe, expressed her desire to see the country’s hemp industry return to its former glory.

Japan’s hemp prohibition mirrors that of the United States, which was likely influenced by American occupation in the 1940s. Kyodo News reports that 5,482 people violated the country’s cannabis law in 2021, (4,537 for possession, 273 for illegal sales, and 230 for illegal cultivation).

Youth cannabis consumption in Japan is also a major concern, and has led to popular video game company Capcom to let Japanese police use its characters from The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to sway consumption by minors.

But yet, cannabis advocates remain. There’s one hemp museum in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture owned by Junichi Takayasu, a local expert on cannabis and its role in Japan’s history.

“Most Japanese people see cannabis as a subculture of Japan but they’re wrong,” Takayasu told The Japan Times in an exclusive 2012 interview. “Cannabis has been at the very heart of Japanese culture for thousands of years.”

Ten years ago, Takayasu expressed his hope that the future is bright for hemp in Japan. “Japanese people have a negative view of cannabis but I want them to understand the truth and I want to protect its history,” he said. “The more we learn about the past, the more hints we might be able to get about how to live better in the future.”

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Japanese Ministry of Health to Discuss Medical Cannabis Legalization

A Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare panel met on May 25 to begin discussions regarding lifting the ban on medical cannabis to benefit patients who suffer from refractory epilepsy.

As reported by The Asahi Shimbun, the ministry may revise the current law sometime this summer. Japanese law currently prohibits any possession or cultivation of any part of cannabis, including “the spikes, leaves, roots and ungrown stalk of the cannabis plant.”

The Asahi Shimbun references that of the “Group of Seven,” or the seven countries with the most advanced economies, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of these, Japan currently has one of the strictest approaches to cannabis regulation and prohibition. In August 2021, the Japanese ministry wrote a report that recommended that the government should consider following the example of other countries to allow patients to use medical cannabis.

While the ministry is discussing the addition of a provision to the Cannabis Control Law that would exclude medical cannabis consumption from becoming grounds for punishment, the agency also seeks to further criminalize recreational use.

Although cannabis is illegal, there are some Japanese cannabis cultivators who are licensed to produce hemp to create shimenawa, a specific rope that is commonly used at shrines. There are no punishments for these cultivators, for fear that the production of the ropes may include “unintentionally inhaling substances of marijuana.” However, this assumption was disproven when no farmers’s urine tests came back positive for cannabis in a survey conducted in 2019.

The Asahi Shimbun writes that some experts believe the law should provide treatment options for “those addicted to marijuana to prevent repeat offenses,” which mainly includes Japanese youth.

In December 2021, Japanese gaming company Capcom allowed the use of its Ace Attorney character to curb cannabis consumption in the nation’s youth, in conjunction with the Osaka Prefectural Police (OPP). Previously, Capcom has assisted the OPP with other crime prevention campaigns. “Capcom hopes to support crime prevention activities in Osaka and all of Japan through this program, which will see the production of 6,000 original posters, as well as 4,000 original flyers that will be included with individually wrapped face masks,” the company said in a press release.

Japan has long prohibited cannabis under the Cannabis Control Law that originally went into effect in 1948. Historically, cannabis had its place in Japanese culture and religion, but from the 1950s onward, Japanese law on cannabis mirrored that of the United State’s approach to prohibition. The Japanese hemp industry was still permitted to operate, but due to expensive cultivation licenses and a decline in demand for hemp goods, few farms remain.

While the government perspective is beginning to shift, it is still clear that Japan needs more progress before it can fully embrace cannabis legalization. In 1980, former Beatles band member Paul McCartney visited Japan with less than eight ounces in his possession, which netted him an 11-year ban from returning. In February 2022, a U.S. Marine received two years of hard labor for mail-ordering “a half-gallon of weed-infused liquid and the quarter-pound of cannabis” from an unnamed individual in Nevada. On May 17, a school nurse was imprisoned for allegedly possessing “an unspecified amount of dried cannabis in two jars and a plastic bag.”

Even when Canada legalized cannabis in 2018, the Japanese government made a statement reminding Japanese nationals living broad that cannabis is illegal to consume even if they live in a country where it’s legal.

According to Kyodo News, the National Police Agency release data that there were 5,482 people who were caught in violation of Japan’s cannabis law (4,537 for possession, 273 for illegal sales, and 230 for illegal cultivation).

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Japanese Police Enlist Video Game Lawyer To Fight Youth Marijuana Use

Japanese video game powerhouse Capcom revealed last week that it is lending its hit character Ace Attorney to a campaign designed to prevent cannabis use by young people. The company announced on Thursday that characters from the popular video game series will be enlisted to fight youth cannabis use under a collaboration with the Osaka Prefectural Police department’s juvenile delinquency prevention awareness campaign.

Every year since 2013, Capcom has worked with the Osaka Prefectural Police and the law enforcement agencies of neighboring prefectures to develop and implement crime prevention awareness campaigns. This year, the company received a request from the Osaka Prefectural Police to use the popular Ace Attorney characters for the first time in a campaign to prevent marijuana abuse, “which has seen a conspicuous shift toward younger age groups,” according to a statement from Capcom.

The campaign will feature characters from The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, which was released in July, in flyers and posters to be distributed at educational institutions, community police facilities, and train stations throughout Osaka Prefecture. The artwork includes the classic Ace Attorney ‘objection!’ stance as well the word “no” in large red letters.

Courtesy Capcom

“Capcom hopes to support crime prevention activities in Osaka and all of Japan through this program, which will see the production of 6,000 original posters, as well as 4,000 original flyers that will be included with individually wrapped face masks,” the company wrote in a December 9 press release.

The company’s support of the campaign is part of its program to nurture regional revitalization efforts throughout Japan by capitalizing on the power of its intellectual property to engage people in four areas including economic development, cultural awareness, prevention education and election participation. The company has carried out various initiatives since 2009, such as concluding the first comprehensive agreement between a video game company and a local government body, collaborating with prefectural police in the Kansai region on prevention activities, and working to raise awareness of gubernatorial elections.

The Ace Attorney series, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, features courtroom battle games where players take on the role of a defense attorney who fights for the lives of their wrongfully accused clients. Since the first game in the series was released in October 2001, Capcom has grown the brand through a comprehensive, multi-platform marketing strategy, leveraging it in mediums such as animated television shows, stage performances, and orchestral concerts. The Ace Attorney series has grown to become one of Capcom’s most popular, with cumulative shipments totaling 8.6 million units as of the end of September.

Cannabis in Japan

Although cannabis has been cultivated in Japan for thousands of years, the nation prohibits the import, export, cultivation, sale, purchase, and research of cannabis buds and leaves for recreational or medicinal purposes under the 1948 Cannabis Control Law. Production of hemp, which is utilized in some Shinto religious practices, is legal, and CBD products containing no THC have been available since 2016.

Japan has some of the most severe penalties in the world for violations of marijuana prohibition laws, including jail sentences of up to five years for simple possession. Penalties for cannabis sales, cultivation, and possession for sale are even more severe, with sentences ranging up to 10 years in prison.

Despite the risk, cannabis is the second-most popular illicit drug in Japan behind methamphetamine, according to a 2019 survey. Approximately 1.8% of people said they had used cannabis in their lifetime, compared to about 44 percent of Americans. Although efforts to reform cannabis prohibition laws have taken root in other east Asian nations in recent years, the Japan Times reported in 2021 that “political momentum for legalizing cannabis” in the nation “is essentially nonexistent.”

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Fakkuappu: Japan Struggles with Cannabis Reform

Every country that creates new laws for a not-to-be stopped global cannabis revolution has faced problems when trying to implement “new” regulations—and so far, the Japanese are no exception.

This year, indeed, has seen repeated flubs and embarrassing false starts that so far, have run into significant problems when it gets to the nitty gritty details. 

This begins with the fact that despite increased liberalization just about everywhere else, the Japanese appear to be going backwards in terms of cannabis reform.

Namely, as of June 11, a health ministry panel stated that (high THC) cannabis use will be criminalized (due to concerns about “young people’s ‘abuse’” of the drug). 

In the meantime, cannabis-derived medications (which are currently restricted in Japan), will be permitted, including by import.

Beyond this, however, even legal hemp farmers are not entirely out of the woods.

A History of Cannabis Reform in Japan 

The current Japanese law on cannabis was enacted right after WWII, in 1948. 

Up until this time, cannabis was a valued part of culture and religion of the country. After 1948, thanks to the American occupation, the Cannabis Control Act essentially copied American legal attitudes of the time.

It was only thanks to the direct intervention of the Emperor that the hemp industry was saved from complete extinction. Namely, the hemp industry was allowed to flourish as a permitted industry.

Sadly, however, hemp farmer numbers have steadily dwindled since the 1950s thanks to the expense of obtaining a license and, until now at least, a receding demand for natural fibres.

Beyond limited commercial production, the current law prohibits the possession and cultivation of “cannabis.” Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, was banned from entering Japan for 11 years after being busted for bringing just under eight ounces of marijuana with him on a visit in 1980. National companies like Toshiba have removed sponsorship of athletes caught with the drug.

Yet, while there is a considerable criminal penalty for both (five and seven years of working prison terms, respectively), with additional fines that can range from two to three million yen, there is no criminal punishment for its actual use.

If this were Holland, such grey areas of the law might be enough to spark a whole industry. For the Japanese, however, no such luck. Indeed, in 2018, when Canada legalized recreational use, the Japanese government issued warnings that it was still illegal for Japanese nationals living abroad to use cannabis, even if they lived in a place like Canada where recreational cannabis use became legal.

However, one of the largest reasons for this lack of clear-cut regulation is the fact that hemp in fact has been used for centuries in the country—including to make special “shimenawa” ropes for Shinto shrines. Commercial sale of CBD has been permitted in Japan since 2016.

Yet, it is not as if the stigma about use has not grown up through the weeds. Of late, this suspicion has even fallen on cultivators. Indeed, recent debate about changing the law here to criminalize use began with a discussion about farmers who cultivate and handle the plant (namely, that it is obvious that they are in a position to accidentally inhale cannabinoids as they work).

As of February of this year, the Japanese health ministry presented test results showing that cannabinoids had not ended up in said farmers’ urine. As a result, the panel decided to move forward on setting out penalties for unauthorized, non-medical use, despite objections from three of the panel’s 12 members.

Last year, in 2020, 5,273 people were involved in cannabis-related cases logged by the police and the health ministry’s Narcotics Control Department. These numbers have doubled in just the last five years. Individuals under 30 accounted for 65 percent of the total.

However, despite the current focus on prosecuting “users,” the current regulations for hemp farmers are still causing problems on the agricultural side of the equation too. 

As of September, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will release a new report setting out clearer guidelines for the hemp cultivation industry. One change will be to allow farmers to sell hemp nationally—in other words outside of their local prefecture (or state). Another will be to reduce the amount of time that surveillance camera footage is required to be stored (it is currently five years).

If this is reform, Japanese style, it leaves a lot to be desired.

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Speaking out on Tokyo’s Anti-Drug Propaganda Video: Reactions from Experts Overseas

This news on Tokyo’s anti-drug propaganda video was published on May 2, 2020 by greenzonejapan Tokyo – Japan/ In March 2020, a video clip was released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health. The video is a part of its anti-drug use campaign for youth. For some unknown reason, a […]

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Travel Vicariously With These International Cannabis Features

Take a journey around the world without leaving your chair with our round-up of international cannabis stories, from sampling Moroccan hash in the Rif mountains with Ed Rosenthal to traveling through India with Swami and Nikki.

READ: Dutch Passion Spreads the Seeds

Legendary seed company Dutch Passion is moving towards creating an international cannabis product line.

A Journey to the Heart of Moroccan Hash

READ: A Journey to the Heart of Moroccan Hash

The homeland of hash production lies deep in the Rif Mountains.

READ: Fragrant Possibilities: Craft Cannabis in Canada’s Legal Market

Canada may be the first G-7 nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis, but the country has deep roots when it comes to cultivating. At the dawn of a new era for legalized, corporate weed in Canada, one craft grower aims to bring the beauty of the bud back to the foreground.

Swami and Nikki Cannabis Now Magazine

READ: Surviving India Without Ganja

Longtime Emerald Triangle cultivators Nikki Lastreto and Swami Chaitanya try traveling sans cannabis.

International cannabis Sweet Seeds Spain Cannabis Seed Company Cannabis Now

READ: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Seed Scientists of Spain

Sweet Seeds, one of the biggest and most popular seed banks in Spain, has grown from a few friends smoking weed and swapping seeds to a major player in Europe’s rapidly developing seed market.

READ: Japan Among the Worst Places to Have Weed

The penalties for growing cannabis in Japan could be up to seven years in prison.

International cannabis

READ: Coral Reefer’s Guide to Cannabis Down Under

Cannabis-loving adventurers need to put Australia on their map now that the country’s pot policy is catching up to the early medical cannabis system in the U.S.

READ: Cannabis in Africa: Will 2020 Be the Breakthrough Year?

People have been growing cannabis in Africa for centuries, and now legal cannabis production has taken hold in some countries on the continent — with several more anticipating an embrace of the new industry on the horizon.

TELL US, what’s your dream destination?

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COVID-19: Make an easy and safe DIY Face Mask

No sewing, No staples! While N95 and medical-grade face masks are definitely best saved for use by health care providers when we have to venture out for groceries or a quick jog around the block, stay safe with this quick and easy DIY face mask! Courtesy of Cannabis Life Network Japan correspondent Cheddar, this project […]

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Japan Among the Worst Places to Have Weed

It was proven again this week that Japan is among the absolute worst places you can live if you’re a cannabis enthusiast, never mind a tourist, as the story of a father and son from Nara Prefecture has started to make the rounds.

According to the English language version of Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s major national newspapers, the whole thing started as a Sunday family dispute and ended up with two teenagers being arrested for violating Japan’s Cannabis Control Law. Japanese media have made sure to note one of the 16-year-olds went to private school and the other did not.

According to the newspaper, the public school kid decided to set up a small grow operation in his family’s house but from the sound of it, things never really got off the ground apart from a planter box and undescribed lighting equipment. He would eventually tell his family he was planning to grow the cannabis for profit. At that point, his father allegedly called the police on him after some kind of warning.

The private school kid would end up getting ratted out too. Between the two students, the cops would net less than 5 grams of weed and seeds. They told the police they had scored the cannabis from the internet via Twitter.

Nare Prefecture police are always on the hunt for cultivators. In 2018 they spent six months working on a tip that would eventually net them only 80 plants in the eventual raid.

The actual penalties the two could face are about as draconian. According to Article 24 of Japan’s cannabis control law, anyone who tries to import or grow pot in Japan is looking at a prison work detail of up to seven years. They also face a fine that’s the equivalent of more than $27,000 U.S. dollars.

Even for those with entrepreneurial goals, getting charged with the simple possession of cannabis that’s deemed to be for personal use, as in the courts realize they aren’t looking to make a buck with that pot, are looking at five years.

But what if they can prove you’re looking to sell that sack?

“A person who commits the crime in the preceding paragraph for profit is punished by imprisonment with work for no more than seven years, or, in light of the circumstances, may be punished by imprisonment with work for no more than seven years and a fine of no more than 2,000,000 yen,” the penal code reads.

So thanks to dad for choosing the criminal justice route as opposed to the parenting one, these kids are now looking at possible jail time until they are 23 since they admitted to collaborating on the effort.

The cannabis persecution for the Japanese doesn’t even stop when they leave home. This was again brought to the forefront when Canada legalized marijuana. By the Japanese standard, anyone found to be smoking in Canada, or anywhere else cannabis has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes, could face up to five years in jail. The penal code’s language specifically notes it doesn’t matter if it is medical marijuana. But if you are caught distributing manufactured medical marijuana products in a nonprofit manner you’re only looking at five years as opposed to the seven you would get for selling things the courts don’t find to be for therapeutic purposes. 

Japan doesn’t just put high schoolers with troubled lives at home on blast, every time a celebrity is caught anywhere near pot it’s a big news story. This included last year when the former World Junior Judo Champion, who is now a police officer in Kyoto, was arrested when visiting family in Osaka. On the visit, the police searched his house in connection with a robbery at Kyoto’s police academy. During the search, police found dry flowers and a pipe.

The highest-profile cannabis case in the history of Japan remains Sir Paul McCartney. The former Beatle was arrested at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport while on tour with Wings. McCartney said they decided to bring a half pound because they knew they weren’t going to be able to find anything to smoke. That half pound ended up getting McCartney nine days in jail, which isn’t too bad since he was facing the seven-year sentence we mentioned.

TELL US, Would you bring weed to Japan?

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Japanese Company Giving Non-Smokers Extra Days Off In Lieu Of Cigarette Breaks

At long last, a company is making things equitable for its employees who aren’t hooked on cigarettes. 

The Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. has decided to award its non-smoking employees with an additional six days off every year in an effort to counterbalance the amount of time spent on cigarette breaks by employees who do smoke. 

“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” said Takao Asuka, the Piala Inc CEO, as quoted by news station WCMH.

The divide between smokers and non-smokers has long been a source of tension in the workplace, with the latter group often feeling resentful for all the breaks taken by the former group to satisfy their addiction. A study last year that was commissioned by e-cigarette maker Halo found that 42 percent of non-smokers believe they should receive between three and five more vacation days than non-smokers. The same study, which was based on a survey of a little more than 1,000 American adults, found that nearly 40 percent of smokers did not think their non-smoking counterparts deserve any extra vacation days. Eighty-one percent of smokers said they think smoking breaks are fair, according to the survey; only a quarter of non-smokers agreed with that.

It was apparently those complaints from non-smokers that prompted Piala to institute the policy change. 

“One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems,” said Piala spokesman Hirotaka Matsushima, as quoted by The Telegraph

“Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate,” Matsushima added.

The Telegraph reported that around 30 of the company’s 120 workers have taken advantage of the extra vacation days.

Will Smoke Breaks Become a Thing of the Past?

Once a hallmark of the American workday, the smoke break has become less common in the U.S., as cigarette use has plummeted to historic lows. A poll released in the summer by Gallup found that only 15 percent of Americans reported smoking a cigarette in the last week — the lowest rate of smoking in Gallup’s 75 years conducting the survey. 

When Gallup conducted the same poll in the 1950s, nearly half of Americans responded “yes” to that question; at the beginning of the 21st century, the number was around 30 percent. 

It is safe to assume that the decline in cigarette smoking is a byproduct of the rise in e-cigarette use, or “vaping.” The Gallup poll in the survey found that eight percent of Americans had vaped in the last week, including nearly 20 percent of adults aged 30 and younger.

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Farmer in Japan Fights for Freedom Over Medical Cannabis

On December 3, 2018, Tetsuya Aoyama, a humble farmer in Obihiro, Hokkaido, was arrested on suspicion of violating Japan’s Cannabis Control Act. He was arrested for possessing 29 kg (64 lb) of cannabis, which was the second-largest amount of cannabis seized in Japan in the last 10 years. But the reasons he had that much […]

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