In Japan, the possession, cultivation, and transfer of cannabis are prohibited by the Cannabis Control Law.

So, if cannabis is legal and Japanese people are treated with cannabis, will they be subject to punishment after returning to Japan?

We will organize and explain the legal issues that patients receiving medical cannabis treatment are concerned about.

Medical cannabis is also illegal in Japan

As a premise, it is illegal to use cannabis not only for taste but also for medical purposes in Japan. This is because Article 4-3 of the Cannabis Control Law also prohibits “getting the application of medicines made from cannabis” .

If you treat with cannabis, not only the doctor but also the patient will be arrested.

Currently, if you want medical cannabis treatment, you have no choice but to get treatment abroad.

The issue of medical cannabis treatment overseas is the regulation of foreign crimes

The Japanese criminal law applies basically to crimes committed in Japan. From this, it seems that possession of cannabis abroad will not be punished.

However, the Penal Code has “foreign offense provisions” that apply to certain crimes even if they are committed outside Japan. The purpose of the Foreign Crimes Regulation is to protect Japan by suppressing “crimes committed outside Japan that may threaten the survival of Japan.” This is called “protectionism”. For example, crimes of internal disturbance and forgery of currency are the targets of foreign crimes.

In fact, the Cannabis Control Law also has foreign crime provisions. Article 24-8 of the Cannabis Control Law stipulates that if you possess, cultivate, transfer, or transfer cannabis outside of Japan, you will be subject to punishment even if you are abroad. From this, even if a Japanese person possesses cannabis abroad, he or she will be punished.

The use of medical cannabis has not been punished

The Cannabis Control Law has foreign offense provisions, but in reality, even if you use medical cannabis overseas, you will not be punished if you follow the correct procedures.

There are many Japanese patients who are actually receiving medical cannabis treatment overseas.

The reason and the current situation will be explained below.

When Japanese people receive medical cannabis treatment overseas, there are many cases where they travel to the United States and Canada, where cannabis is legal. A private non-profit organization (NPO) that considers medical cannabis treatment is also introduced on the Internet, “How Japanese can receive medical cannabis treatment overseas”, and an explanation article by a person who actually received medical cannabis treatment is posted. It has been.


The fact that this information has been posted extensively on the Internet and has not received any guidance from the Japanese police or government is that medical cannabis is almost perfectly acceptable for therapeutic use in legitimate countries. It can be said that it shows one.

Reasons why foreign crime regulations do not apply

So is it legally legal to apply medical cannabis abroad? Let’s see if there is a possibility of being punished by the foreign crime provisions of the Cannabis Control Law.

Doctor’s prescription is “just cause”

Certainly, under the Cannabis Control Law and the Penal Code, if you use cannabis abroad, you will be subject to punishment. However, the use of cannabis is punished only when it is used “unnecessarily”. “Unnecessarily” means “unnecessarily” or “for no good reason.”

In a country where cannabis use is legal, even if you use cannabis under the supervision of a doctor as a result of a diagnosis by a local doctor for therapeutic purposes, it is hard to say “unnecessarily”.

In fact, Professor Hisashi Sonoda (lawyer) of Konan University also said that the use of cannabis for medical purposes overseas is not subject to the foreign crime provisions of the Cannabis Control Law. There is also a powerful theory to the same effect (Tatsuro Uemura “Cannabis Control Law” Commentary Special Criminal Law 5-II Medical and Pharmaceutical Affairs (2) [2nd Edition] VII, p. 97).

In general, “Midari ni” is a word that means illegality, and if it is in Japan, it violates Japanese law, and if it is abroad, it violates the law of the country in which the act was performed, and its operation. If the act was done in Japan, it would also violate Japanese law. In other words, in order to be able to say “unreasonably”, it must be illegal and punishable not only in Japan but also in that country.

Cannabis under the control of doctors and hospitals is hard to say “possessed”

Also, if a hospital or doctor with a public license in the country administers or stores medical cannabis, it is difficult to adapt it as if the patient “possessed” it.

For example, “morphine” made from poppy is prohibited from being used or possessed by the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Law, just like other narcotics. However, if the hospital has a drug license, drug management, and administration management as a medical drug, patients will not be punished for “possession” even in Japan.

Cannabis Control Law Article 4.3 is not subject to foreign crime regulations

The aforementioned Cannabis Control Law, Article 4.3, “Receiving the application of medicines manufactured from cannabis” is not subject to the foreign crime regulations in the first place (see Article 24-8 of the Cannabis Control Law). If you are abroad, there should be no problem with receiving medical cannabis treatment.

No application of cosmopolitanism

The Penal Code has a provision that “even if it is a foreign offense, certain crimes stipulated by the treaty are subject to punishment” (Article 4-2). This is a “world principle” clause that seeks to punish crimes that should be eradicated in cooperation with each country, even if they are foreign crimes. The Cannabis Control Law is not subject to Article 4-2 and is not subject to punishment.

Based on the above, even if cannabis travels to a legal country for medical purposes and is treated with medical cannabis under the supervision of a doctor, it is extremely unlikely that the crime of violating the Cannabis Control Law will be established. I can say.

Three conditions not subject to the Cannabis Control Law

In order for medical cannabis treatment overseas not to violate the Cannabis Control Law, the following conditions must be met.

Condition 1 To be treated in a country where medical cannabis is legal

The first is, of course, to be treated “domestic” in countries where cannabis use is legal. Even if you do not get punished if you use medical cannabis locally, you will be punished if you bring it back to Japan.

For example, even if you receive a cannabis prescription in the United States, you should be aware that if you bring it back to Japan, you will be guilty of importing it.

Condition 2 Get medical treatment by a medical cannabis specialist

The second is to receive guidance and treatment from a medical cannabis specialist. Even in Japan where cannabis is legal, if you blindly use cannabis at your own discretion without a medical examination, you may be punished under the Cannabis Control Law’s foreign crime provisions.

You must always contact a “cannabis specialist” for a medical examination and be diagnosed as “treatment with medical cannabis is effective”.

Condition 3 The hospital manages and supervises medical cannabis

The third condition is that you need to be supervised and supervised by a doctor or hospital regarding the preservation of medical cannabis. Whether the cannabis is a legitimate country or for therapeutic purposes, patients should not buy cannabis on their own and use it blindly at their own discretion.

For example, even if a doctor has diagnosed that “treatment by using medical cannabis is effective”, the patient should not purchase and use “cannabis as a luxury item” at a place other than the pharmacy. It may be a violation (possession) of the Cannabis Control Law.

Instead, keep your doctors and hospitals in control of not only the application of cannabis to patients, but also their preservation (possession).

Cannabis use is not subject to punishment in Japan

You should also be familiar with the provisions of the Cannabis Control Law in Japan.

In fact, the Japanese Cannabis Control Law does not prohibit “use” or “suction.” Prohibitions include possession, import / export, transfer and transfer. I see cases of being arrested for violating the Cannabis Control Law on TV news, but most of them are due to “possession”.

Keep in mind that “use” of both medical cannabis and cannabis as a luxury item is “not subject to punishment in the first place.”


What is important for receiving medical treatment overseas is that even if medical cannabis is a legal country, it is not subject to the foreign crime regulations, so doctors and hospitals do not own medical cannabis. Is to get medical cannabis applied under strict control under a public license.

To the extent that medical cannabis is used as an appropriate “treatment” under the diagnosis of a doctor, it is highly unlikely to be a problem.


June 2024