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Is it time for Japan to legalize cannabis?

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Cannabis in Japan is stigmatized with the illegal status. Advocates are now stressing for a change in attitudes.

Cannabis has been illegal in Japan since 1948.

Under the current legislations defined by the Cannabis Control Law, its use and possession can be punished with five years of imprisonment on top of heavy financial penalties. In addition, anyone found involved in the cultivation, sale or transport of the drug can land in jail for about 7 to 10 years and made liable to pay a hefty fine to authorities.

These stringent policies have led to a lot of stigmatization of cannabis in Japan. According to some legalization advocates in the country, this stigma is so strong that it can be analogous to pillory surrounding criminals.

This criminalization of the plant has led to a complete shift in social attitudes towards it. Therefore, in order to bring about policy reforms in the industry, many advocates consider raising public awareness about the drug as the most vital course of action.

History of cannabis use in Japan

A historical review of cannabis use in Japan reveals that it was cultivated in the region since the pre-Neolithic period. This means that it was associated with the culture of the region since thousands of years.

If that period seems too ancient to consider, data from 1954 can be far more convincing. According to statistics reported in Medical Cannabis Network Quarterly, there were about 37,313 hemp farmers in Japan in 1954, compared to barely 37 in 2016.

Therefore, it can be established that cannabis was a popular agricultural product in the country back in the day.

Before its US influenced legal ban in 1948, the plant was widely used in the country. It was also considered sacred. The followers of the Shinto religious tradition believed that cannabis had the power of purification. They also respected it as a symbol of the sun, the inspiration for the Japanese flag.

In addition to this, cannabis was widely used in producing fiber and various other products. According to Junichiro Takayasu, director of Japan’s only cannabis museum, “The cannabis-fiber weaving technique used by Japanese craftsmen is very conscientious handwork, and I think it is important to carry on the tradition. The clothes from genuine cannabis fiber are cool in summer and warm in the winter, which is perfect for the Japanese climate.”

Struggling for cannabis acceptance and legalization

Despite of the strict laws surrounding the cannabis industry, groups of legalization advocates are emerging in the country. Green Zone Japan and Japanese Clinical Association of Cannabinoids are among the most prominent names that are striving to secure a legal status for cannabis in the country.

 Aim of Green Zone Japan

Green Zone Japan is a medical cannabis advocacy group that came into being in 2017. The main aim of the founders Naoko Miki and Yuji Masakata is to bring up to date medical cannabis information to Japanese medical professionals and the general public in order to educate them on the subject.

In a recent move towards its legalizing efforts, Green Zone is adding subtitles to a documentary called CBD Nation. The documentary will be virtually screened for members all year long for maximum viewership.

Aim of Japanese Clinical Association of Cannabinoids

Japanese Clinical Association of Cannabinoids is the official partner of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines. It was established in 2015 to aid healthcare workers in conducting cannabinoid researches in Japan.

They are working to analyze and evaluate CBD clinical researches and the effects of foods infused with it.

Businesses using cannabis derivative, CBD

The lack of awareness about therapeutic benefits of CBD and the stringent laws have negatively affected businesses in the country.

It was among the most important agricultural crops when a complete ban was placed on it. The resulting outrage and disapproval by the most hard hit farmers forced the government to revise the laws. What we see today is the “revised” version due to the retaliation.

Today, cultivation of hemp is still possible, but under the strict control of the government. Growers have to obtain a cultivation license and permission before they can begin plantation. The bureaucratic process for obtaining and maintaining a license is so long and tiresome that agricultures are discouraged.

Despite of this, Japan is advancing small steps towards cannabis normalization. Entrepreneurs like Kota Shimomura, owner of CBD Coffee in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, are giving new business ideas and clientele to the cannabis industry. Due to the increasing demand, he believes that the CBD market will surpass tobacco in the nest five years. He is also planning to open a second location in Shinjuku by the end of this year.

Then there is another line of beauty products launched by Priyanka Yoshikawa, a model and former Miss World Japan. “I wanted to have my own skin care line for a long time. And I saw that no one was really doing a good, CBD-based skin care line.” She also believes that CBD will provide the much needed relief to the workaholic population of Japan. It will allow them some “relaxation and one-on-one time”.

This industry is expected to bring in a lot of job opportunities for it agricultural revival. According to Masakata, a neurologist by profession and volunteer at Green Zone, this revival will bring young people to come back to the countryside.

 

 

A graduate in Bachelors of Business Administration, Yumna Haq is an ardent researcher and a dedicated writer. Having lived in three different counties, her cultural exposure is vast, allowing her to reflect more knowledge in her work. She's currently working for Cannabis Health Insider as a news writer.

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An Overview of Marijuana Laws in Florida

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The laws on marijuana are evolving all over the US. Being closely related to the public now it is important that everyone knows the little intricacies in them. The recent US elections allowed many states to finally legalize marijuana. However, other states like Oklahoma, California, and Florida also keep updating their rules to cater to newer problems. In this article, we’ll take a close look at marijuana laws in Florida.

The state laws of Florida allow for medical marijuana use however, they prohibit recreational cannabis use. In addition, medical users need a prescription from a proper physician before legal consumption. Once you have a prescription you can consume marijuana in any form. You can either smoke it or choose some edible way to treat yourself. The laws concerning marijuana got update in 2019 recently and the lawmakers still did not legalize recreational use. However, many cities in Florida have take steps to ensure that recreational use gets treated as a civil offense and not as a crime.

Historical Importance:

Florida has an interesting history in terms of marijuana legalization. The state rejected the medical use vote back in 2014. However, they did approve it just two years later in 2016. Another interesting fact about medical cannabis in Florida is that initially, only oils and edibles were legal. The preliminary laws on medical cannabis in Florida considered smoking a crime.

Smoking marijuana was declared legal in 2019, the lawmakers finally approved smoking as well as any other way for consuming marijuana medically.  In addition, contrary to historical laws many cities recently decriminalized illegal marijuana possession.

Recreational Marijuana:

Recreational marijuana is strictly illegal in Florida. The state has defined a framework for only allowing people with certain qualifying conditions to get legal marijuana. Although some local cities have declared consuming marijuana without a license civil offense, many still consider it a crime. This means that smoking cannabis without a medical card can lead to a fine as well as criminal charges in Florida.

Medical Marijuana Regulations:

The rules of consuming marijuana in Florida are defined by  Florida Revised Statutes 381.986 law. The law defines all the medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana use. A physician may approve a patient for medical use after examining one of such conditions. The marijuana law defines regulations for a user registry, caregiver possession, and treatment centers for purchasing consumable marijuana.

Legal Edibles:

Edibles containing marijuana are legal in Florida. Any person approved of using marijuana can lawfully consume any edible. Florida has allowed for cannabis edibles since 2016. However, the state did not allow for smoking cannabis until 2019.

Legal Marijuana in Tampa:

Although the state laws clearly declare illegal possession of marijuana as a crime. The City of Tampa has created a system that allows law enforcement to issue civil infractions for marijuana offenders. The current laws state that the violators will face criminal charges under the state law. The new system was voted by a majority of  5-1 by the city council. It allows for up to 20 grams of possession. The offenders face a fine of 75$ on the first offense which escalates with further offenses.

Cannabis Vs Prescription drugs is a topic of increasing debate among experts.

Photo Source: Getty Images

Qualifying Medical Conditions:

The medical conditions qualifying for medical marijuana use include Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, HIV, PTSD, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis as well as terminal medical conditions like chronic pain. Marijuana remains extremely beneficial for treating chronic pain in patients. It is the most common condition sted by patients qualifying for a medical marijuana card. Moreover, any person who fakes any of the symptoms to get access to medical marijuana faces a misdemeanor charge in Florida.

Medical Marijuana For Non-Adults:

The cannabis-based medical treatments are not limited to just the adults in the state of Florida. Minors can apply for a medical marijuana license in the state for legal use. However, in order to get the license, they must meet the qualifications for severe illness. In addition, a minor seeking for medical cannabis prescription needs to see two qualifying physicians for approval. . The doctors have to evaluate the patient’s condition and give their medical opinion. Moreover, the Parents of the minor also need to give their consent for the treatment.

Penalties for Illegal Possession:

The illegal possession of marijuana is punishable by law in the set of Florida. The punishment however depends on the amount of cannabis in your possession. The possession of fewer than 20 grams of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. However, with higher amounts of cannabis on the charged the punishments also become severe. the highest punishment for marijuana possession in Florida is imprisonment for up to 30 years.

Driving after Consuming Marijuana:

Driving after smoking marijuana is a serious offense no matter the state. It is not only dangerous to the person driving the vehicle but can also lead to serious damage to others around them. Consequently, even if you do have a medical cannabis card you can not drive after smoking marijuana. The charges are similar to drunk driving over the limit of allowed alcohol in the body. Moreover, in case of any personal or public damage, the person bears full liability.

Common Defence Statements:

Marijuana consumption without state approval is a serious offense. You should always consult the local law-enforcing authorities in case of any confusion. However, if you do get caught in a bad situation with no exits. We have a few common defenses to marijuana charges by Florida citizens. If there is no physical evidence you can outright deny marijuana possession. When the police have a weaker case on the accused they often say that the defense cannot prove they had marijuana on them.

Moreover, in case you have a medical card you can outright claim your right to use cannabis. In addition, it is legal for caregivers to carry marijuana for their patients. Even when you get accused of marijuana possession. Showing that you are taking steps to get a medical card can help a lot with the case.

State Laws for Marijuana are extremely important in marijuana legalization for states. They are of utmost importance and determine the future of cannabis markets. These laws also determine how much revenue the state might generate from its legalization programs. However, most of all it is important that newer states working on legislation implement laws derived from the examples of states that have done it before. In this way, they can build on the mistakes and make a better cannabis environment.

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An Overview of Marijuana Laws in Arizona

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Arizona's Marijuana Laws have now made its recreational usage legal in the state.

Arizona, also known as The Grand Canyon State, is famous for more than its iconic natural wonder. Advocates of marijuana legalization have long associated the state with its stringent policies towards the drug. This is mainly because marijuana laws in Arizona have not only been extremely conservative, but also archaic, and racist in every way one can imagine.

This year, however, in a historic move to reform its policies, Arizona had put up the question of marijuana legalization on the November 2020 election ballots. The initiative, known as Proposition 207, was drafted to legalize the recreational usage of the drug in the state. Propitiously, it won with an overwhelming majority, getting the approval of around 60.03% of Arizona residents.

This was a huge jump in the percentage of legalization supporters since 2016. The closest Arizona ever got to legalizing marijuana in its jurisdiction was in that same year, where Proposition 205 was put before the public. To the dismay of its advocates, the initiative failed even after securing 48.7% of votes in favor of it. Its opponents defeated the initiative with a mere 2.6% majority, standing at 51.3%.

Overview of transition in Arizona’s Marijuana Laws

Arizona’s marijuana laws have undergone a lot of changes, failed legalization attempts, and revisions. Here is an overview of when each of these policies was introduced and what each of them meant for Arizonians:

Proposition 200 – 1996

The Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act was implemented in Arizona in 1996. Under the terms of this initiative, certified physicians could prescribe cannabis or any other Schedule 1 drug to patients with certain medical conditions. It was approved with the support of 65% of Arizona residents.

Within a few months of its approval, however, state legislators rejected the proposition and tried to repeal it. “It seems to me, we’re saying to the voters that you’re smart when you vote for us, but we don’t trust you when you vote on other important issues,” state Sen. Pete Rios said in April of 1997 while voicing his disapproval of the changes put forward by legislators.

In response to this, voters used their right to a popular referendum in 1998. Appallingly, Proposition 300 was not successful in attaining much at all. All it could manage to do was to create a significant conflict with federal law due to its language composition which ultimately led to its rejection.

Proposition 203 – 2002 and 2010

Through Proposition 203 advocates in Arizona tried to legalize recreational as well as medicinal usage of marijuana for the first time in their history. It was first introduced in the state in 2002 and proposed criminal justice reforms as well as a scheme to establish a state-run medical cannabis system.

In addition to this, it also proposed decriminalizing possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana. It also proposed some revisions of conviction criteria for non-violent drug offenses. The initiative met the same fate as its preceding reforms and did not get approved by the law enforcement community of Arizona.

The proposition was placed before local residents once again in November of 2010. This time it succeeded in getting medicine usage of marijuana legalized with the support of 50% of voters.

Proposition 205 – 2016

After its medicinal use was legalized in 2010, Proposition 205 sought to legalize the recreational use of marijuana once again in 2016.  As mentioned earlier, the initiative was defeated. Despite of expected tax revenues, and potential increases in educational funding opponents of the initiative were convinced that the social and economic impacts of legalization would have outweighed its benefits.

The Victory of Proposition 207

Proposition 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Marijuana Act is a long-awaited victory of the cannabis sector in Arizona. It has marked the end of an era of uncompromising policies that have bred racism, police brutality, and unfair incarceration.

Under the new laws, past marijuana related minor crimes can be petitioned to get an expungement. The proposed laws are expected to be put into effect beginning July of 2021.

Here’s what they have in store for Arizonians:

Possession

Adults 21 or older will be allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Possessing 5 grams of its concentrate is also made permissible. Moreover, medical marijuana patients will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces over a period of two weeks and grow 12 plants for personal use.

Cultivation

Under Proposition 207, marijuana users are allowed to grow 6 plants for personal use at their homes. However, it is important for the cultivation to be in an enclosed area, away from public view. All users who hold the ADHS are allowed to cultivate their plants.

Consumption

Smoking marijuana in public is still not legal in marijuana. Using it on the premises of a dispensary can lead to license cancellation. In addition, driving under influence can lead to severe consequences and will be punishable through fines, arrests or license suspension.

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An Overview of New Jersey Marijuana Laws

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Despite being called the garden state of America, New Jersey is nowhere near accepting public marijuana consumption. While there is a medical program in place in New Jersey. Marijuana Consumption for recreation is strictly prohibited. The law treats marijuana like any other illegal drug in the state. The possession, distribution, and cultivation for any other reason than medicine is a crime. In addition, there are even harsh penalties on growing or distributing hashish and other cannabis concentrates.

The new year brings in a lot of policy changes across the states. Many states revised their state on marijuana recently. Moreover, several new laws are now in place to prove cannabis regulation. There are states working on decriminalizing marijuana. This means that with recent law changes people in illegal possession of marijuana will face lower penalties as well as no criminal charges.

Coming back to the Jersey laws the state has a pretty comprehensive definition of marijuana laws. However, the legal language of official statements can sometimes confuse average individuals. Fear not because we have an accurate summary of marijuana laws in New Jersey.

Marijuana Possession:

In New Jersey, it is a disorderly person’s offense to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana. The maximum penalty that a person might get for such an offense is up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. The possession of more than 50 grams is a crime in the 4th degree. It has some serious consequences including a maximum punishment of 1.5 years in prison and a fine of $25,000. The people who are allowed to use cannabis medically also need to adhere to set rules. Moreover, Possession within 1,000 feet of a school has even higher fines and community service requirements.

Distributing Marijuana:

The state laws of New Jersey declare marijuana sale and distribution a crime. The punishment for the charge depends on the amount of marijuana in their possession. If the weight is less than one ounce, the offense is a 4th-degree crime punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. However, if it’s more than an ounce but less than five pounds there is mandatory punishment of imprisonment of three years as well as $25,000 in fines.

In addition, the distribution of marijuana between five to twenty-five pounds has a punishment of five years in jail minimum with a maximum of ten years, and as much as $150,000 in fines. The penalties increase further will increase in quantity from twenty-five pounds from 10 to 20 years in prison as well as  $300,000 fine. Once again the law has worse punishments on sale near schools with up to a $150,000 fine and three to five years in prison.

Marijuana Cultivation:

Marijuana cultivation is an important factor to discuss while legalizing cannabis. In New Jersey, however, it is a crime to grow any amount of marijuana. Cultivation of fewer than 10 plants is punishable by at least three years in prison. With more severe charges leading to five, and up to $25,000 in fines.

In addition, cultivating between 10 and 49 plants has a minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 10 years, and a top fine of $150,000. Moving on Cultivation of 50 or more plants comes with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a fine of up to $300,000.

Hash and Cannabis Concentrates:

Cannabis concentrates have higher amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound, in them. Consequently, special restrictions apply to them, these restrictions apply on hashish, hash oil, and all other marijuana concentrates. A small offense like possession of fewer than 5 grams is a disorderly person offense subject to as much as six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. However, with more than five grams on you, you’re looking at $25,000 and a prison term of up to 18 months.

In terms of concentrate distribution. Making, distributing, or selling less than five grams of concentrate is a fourth-degree crime, this includes possession with intent to distribute. The maximum penalty for that is  18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines. For an amount varying between five grams and one pound, the penalty is between three and five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. In addition, Manufacture, distribution, sale, and possession with intent is a third-degree crime. Once again the exact punishment varies with the amount of cannabis product on you.

For second-degree manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession with intent, the punishment is a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 years in prison, and up to $150,000 in fines given the quantity between one to five pounds. For more than five pounds the offense is a first-degree crime and the top punishment is between 10 and 20 years in prison and $200,000 in fines.

Medical Cannabis Program:

Although there is no recreational cannabis law in New Jersey, it does support marijuana as a medicine. the state law allows for the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. According to the official statement patients with debilitating health conditions, physicians, primary caregivers are protected from “arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties.”

Included conditions:

For someone to qualify for medical marijuana treatment in New Jersey, they must have one of the following qualifying conditions.

  • Addiction substitute therapy for opioid reduction
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic visceral pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS (includes associated chronic pain and/or severe nausea)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Seizure and/or spasticity disorders
  • Tourette’s syndrome

Or Any terminal illness if a doctor knows the patient will die within a year. There are, however, limits on the quantity of marijuana for medical users. they can not have more than two ounces per month. In addition, medical cannabis users also cannot grow their own cannabis at home. The cannabis they consume must be bought from State-licensed dispensaries. there are only twelve operating State-licensed dispensaries in new jersey right now however they might increase in the future. The patients also can’t give away their legal marijuana.

Marijuana Possession for Caregivers:

Primary caregivers can carry marijuana in New Jersey. You must be a person who assists a registered patient with their medical use of marijuana to qualify for it. The caregiver should be a resident of New Jersey and can’t be the person’s doctor.  All caregivers must be at least 18 years of age. By the state law.

 

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