Tokyo, Dec 7 (IANS): Japan's parliament has approved a bill to legalise cannabis-derived medical products while criminalising the use of the chemical other than for medicinal purposes.
The upper house of the National Diet of Japan on Wednesday passed the revised cannabis and narcotics control laws during the day, which will enter into force within a year from promulgation, Xinhua news agency reported.
Under the revised laws, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical found in the plant, will be dealt with as narcotics, the use of which will be banned to prevent young people and others from abusing it.
While Japan already prohibits the possession and distribution of cannabis, the country will ban its use except for medicinal purposes, setting a prison sentence of up to seven years for violation.
Growing the plants to produce medical products will also be allowed.
In November, Japan's health ministry approved the ban on a cannabis-derived ingredient named hexahydrocannabihexol, or HHCH, after so-called "cannabis gummies" containing such an ingredient has rendered many ill in the country.
The synthetic compound was designated as a controlled substance. An expert panel of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare approved the plan to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of HHCH, officially taking effect from December 2.
Violators of the ban under the pharmaceutical and medical device law can be imprisoned for up to three years or fined up to 3 million yen, or 20,235 US dollars, the report said.