Position
Paper

Feb 1, 2022
MAJIC Position Paper Nr. 1 

Direction for the Ethical Expansion of the Cannabis Industry in Japan

 

The cannabis industry has seen dramatic growth around the world in the last decade. While there are some areas of growth in Japan, the country has not yet made a concerted effort to wholly participate in the redevelopment of its historically important industry.

The cannabis industry once again offers Japan a unique opportunity to build a viable environment for farmers, entrepreneurs, manufacturers and foreign investors to thrive. The Industry is currently 2021 USD 28.266b and forecasted to grow to USD  197.74b by 2028[1]. As the cannabis industry is revived in Japan, there are many areas that require further clarification, guidance and self regulation. MAJIC (Manufacturers Association of Japan Industrial Cannabis) is dedicated to the ethical and sustainable growth of the cannabis industry in Japan and to promoting constructive dialogue and accurate information. 

The following paragraphs identify some of the benefits of cannabis, open questions that require guidance as well as a clear direction from MAJIC for the successful  future of the cannabis industry in Japan.

The cannabis plant offers a wide variety of applications in nutrition, health foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, sustainable building materials, clothing, fuels, plastics and a growing number of industries. It is one of the most versatile and sustainable plants on the planet with an ability to grow almost anywhere. It reaches maturity within 10 to 32 weeks depending on the climate and  can be easily grown without the use of fertilizers or harmful chemicals. In short, Cannabis offers a viable ecologically friendly solution for sustainable products across multiple industries.

It has been utilized over many hundreds of years and after a period of general prohibition in the second half of the twentieth century, cannabis is once again being recognized around the world for all of its benefits it has to offer. With the resurgence of interest in cannabis, a significant amount of scientific research has emerged, further confirming the advantages the plant can provide[2]

Several countries have taken the lead in the rebuilding of the cannabis industry through establishment and changes to laws and policies that allow for the large-scale growing, production and commercialization of cannabis. Legalization of the use of over 100 compounds found in cannabis is progressing as nations realize the health, social, economic and environmental benefits. Canada[3], Mexico[4], South Africa[5] and a large proportion of the United States[6] are just a few of the countries leading the growth. Europe is moving in the same direction with Germany recently announcing their plans to fully legalize cannabis[7] . In Asia, Thailand has legalized cannabis[8] and is moving forward as the first country in the region to proactively redevelop their cannabis industry. China has become a major grower of cannabis, while Korea allows it for medical use[9]. Hong Kong[10] and Japan allow the sale of limited substances from the cannabis plant, such as CBD. 

Japan has historically been a major producer and consumer of cannabis products until the end of the last world war. In 1930, marijuana was designated as a narcotic under the Narcotics Control Law, making it difficult to grow and use for medicinal purposes.

In 1948 US occupation forces implemented the cannabis control act (source), which still exists today under which cultivation of cannabis is permitted with some restrictions, and the use of cannabis raw materials derived from stems and seeds, as well as the manufacture and sale of products, are allowed.

The use of THC for any purpose is illegal. [11][12]

The current market and potential growth for each of the above applications are as follows: 

 

Ⅰ Medical

Possible medical uses for cannabis include treatment for epilepsy, sleep, pain, inflammation, eating disorders, GI disorders, alleviation of symptoms associated with chemotherapy and more. Recent research indicates that some cannabinoids found in hemp may be effective in preventing coronavirus from entering human cells[13].

$6,822.21 Million in 2020 and is projected to reach $53,883.46 Million by 2030 registering a CAGR of 23.6% from 2021 to 2030.[14] 

 

Ⅱ Food and Beverages 

Food, beverage and supplement applications for cannabis include confectionery, flavoured drinks, cereals, wellness and functional foods (such as protein powders,bars and drinks) and also tincture and capsules based supplements. Pet food is also a growing category.

The cannabis food and beverage market size was valued at $427.0 million in 2018 and is estimated to reach $2,632.0 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 26.6 % from 2019 to 2026[15].

 

Ⅲ Fibers

Hemp fiber can be used in building materials, textiles, automotive materials, paper, biodegradable plastics , animal bedding and ropes.

USD 4.46 Billion in 2019, is projected to reach USD 43.75 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 33% from 2020 to 2027[16].

 

Ⅳ Cosmetics and Personal care

Cannabis derivatives including hemp oil and cannabinoids are used in skin care and hair care such as shampoos, conditioners, cleansers,toners, creams, hair and body oils.

The global CBD, skincare market size was estimated at USD 234.1 million in 2018 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 32.9% over the forecasted period, from 2019 to 2025[17]

Estimates of the cannabis market size for Japan range widely, mostly due to lack of a coordinated effort to gather accurate data. Japan does appear to lead the Asian market for CBD with several companies initially establishing the market around 2015/2016 and many more companies entering the CBD space in 2020-2021. The Japanese government has established clear policies and procedures for the importation of CBD and other legal compounds found in cannabis. The MHLW(Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) has commissioned a working group which is  in the process of presenting their recommendations  so appropriate policies and laws around cannabis can be implemented in the near future[18].

MAJIC was established to ethically lead the Japanese cannabis market through accurate information and self regulation. It is our mission to cooperate with the government and the public to grow the cannabis industry in Japan. We aim to  offer  Japanese consumers  accurate information on the many benefits of the cannabis plant and help grow the Japanese cannabis industry into a globally competitive and attractive market.  We work with ethical partners in the industry for productive discussions and

assistance in the formulation of policies. MAJIC is fully dedicated to the growth of the overall cannabis industry, not to a specific company or individual.

The following is a list of topics which MAJIC will pursue along with specific positions when applicable. This list is subject to changes as MAJIC members continue to meet to formulate deeper positions on each topic.

 

  Farming of Cannabis

Japan has a long history of cannabis farming. MAJIC supports the efforts of farmers to advance the growth   of cannabis farming in Japan. MAJIC believes that this environmentally sustainable material can play a  much larger role across many industries in Japan.

 

Ⅱ Ethical Advancement of CBD and other Minor Cannabinoids 

MAJIC supports the ethical advancement of the established and growing CBD industry in Japan. This includes other so-called “minor cannabinoids” like CBN and CBG which offer health and nutritional benefits without causing a “high” or euphoria. The following is a list of the areas related to CBD and other minor cannabinoids where MAJIC will self regulate and propose further guidelines.

  1. Definition of CBD and minor cannabinoids: Standardization of definitions is required for proper understanding by the public and for appropriate labeling. This includes defining broad spectrum vs. isolate and CBD naturally derived from hemp vs. synthetic CBD produced from yeast and other sources.
  2. Appropriate and consistent labeling for clear understanding by the consumer.

     

  3. Standardization of personal import requirements to be consistent with requirements placed on Japan-based importers and producers.

     

  4. Parts of cannabis plant that can be legally used in the production of cannabis products in Japan. Currently, only the stalk and seed can be used, which is different from worldwide standards. A Japanese  government working group has suggested that other parts of the plant could be allowed for the production of CBD. MAJIC supports the expansion of parts of cannabis plant that can be used to bring Japan in line with worldwide standards.

     

  5. Promotion of benefits based on scientific evidence: Currently, there are no clear guidelines for the promotion and advertising of CBD and minor cannabinoids. MAJIC would like to work together with the Japanese government to define a list of scientifically based benefits that can be communicated in promotional materials for CBD and minor cannabinoids, while avoiding unnecessary or unsubstantiated claims by promoters of cannabis.

     

  6. Self regulation of permissible age for vaping (e-cigarette) of CBD: MAJIC believes that vaping age for CBD should be consistent with vaping age for tobacco (currently 20 years old and above).

     

  7. Self regulation for permissible age for CBD consumption; MAJIC believes that CBD can provide various benefits for people of all ages, but recommends that people under the legal adult age should receive parental consent before consuming.

     

  8. Recently there are variations of cannabinoids being synthesized (i.e Delta 8, HHC, etc.) which can cause a euphoric effect. MAJIC believes these should be identified, researched for their benefits and risks and proper discussions with the Japanese government should be had to determine whether additional regulation is necessary.

     

Ⅲ Advancement and proper usage of THC

All of the G7 countries with the exception of Japan allow THC in some shape or form. The Japanese MHLW formed a working group that has made suggestions on the legalization of THC for use in pharmaceutical products. MAJIC understands that THC has therapeutic value and will support the regulated legalization of THC in Japan if and when it occurs. MAJIC supports the Japanese government’s current efforts to find the appropriate way to regulate and utilize this effective compound of cannabis which is currently illegal under the Cannabis Control Act in Japan. 

 

Ⅳ Hemp-based Food & Beverages

Hemp offers a plant-based nutritional alternative for protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and other components that are well tolerated by the body. MAJIC supports the advancement of hemp-based foods and drinks in Japan.

 

Ⅴ Hemp Fiber

Cannabis  provides environmentally sustainable and economically viable materials for construction, plastics, textiles and many other applications. MAJIC supports the advancement of domestic  farming, and production as well as the importation of fibers for these applications.

 

Ⅵ Cannabis research

Cannabis research has increased greatly as more and more benefits of the plant are discovered. MAJIC supports the development of more cannabis research in Japan for the benefit of the population and the advancement of the Industry.

With the above direction, MAJIC welcomes like-minded organizations working in the Japanese cannabis industry to join us  for constructive dialogue together with the Japanese government to further develop  an ethical, sustainable cannabis industry in Japan.

 

  1. https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/cannabis-marijuana-market-100219
  2. https://norml.org/blog/2020/12/16/record-number-of-scientific-papers-published-in-2020-about-cannabis/

  3. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/

  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_Mexico

  5. https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/515734/updated-cannabis-rules-proposed-for-south-africa-including-dealing-with-age-limits-and-driving/

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis_by_U.S._jurisdiction

  7. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ceciliarodriguez/2021/12/27/germany-moves-to-legalize-cannabis-second-country-after-malta-in-europe/?sh=7085b3b1220b

  8. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2230303/ministry-pushes-full-cannabis-legalisation

  9. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2018-12-12/south-korea-is-the-first-east-asian-country-to-legalize-medical-cannabis

  10. https://www.nd.gov.hk/pdf/CBD_Information_Note_English.pdf

  11. 大麻取締法 | e-Gov法令検索

  12. 麻薬及び向精神薬取締法 | e-Gov法令検索

  13. https://hempindustrydaily.com/oregon-state-researchers-hemp-based-compounds-can-prevent-coronavirus-from-entering-human-cells/

  14. Medical Cannabis Market Size, Share | Growth Analysis – 2030

  15. Cannabis Beverages – Market Study by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

  16. Global Hemp Fiber Market Analysis | Size & Forecasts

  17. Global CBD Skin Care Market Size & Share, 2025 | Industry Report

  18. 大麻等の薬物対策のあり方検討会|厚生労働省