9 minute read

Is CBD legal in Japan?

CBD has taken the world by storm and Japan is no exception. It is hard to miss the numerous articles and advertisements for innovative CBD products. The spike in demand is commonly attributed to an increasing amount of promising scientific research done on CBD.

While this certainly means that it is a great opportunity to dive into the CBD business, there are still a lot of things to watch out for. For starters, you need to fully understand what CBD is and what it can do. Broad-spectrum CBD oil, full-spectrum oil, all of this terminology can be confusing.  There is a large amount of misinformation about CBD, ranging all the way from misrepresenting scientific data to outright wishful thinking.

This is why we at Essentia Pura want to set the record straight. We want to explain the origins of CBD and the legal status of CBD oil.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What is CBD?
  • Basic information about the cannabis plant.
  • History of CBD in Japan.
  • Difference between marijuana and hemp and their regulation.
  • The legal status of CBD oil in Japan.
  • Is CBD oil legal for military personnel in Japan?
  • How to launch your CBD product on the Japanese market.
  • How and where to buy CBD oil and other products in Japan.

If you are interested in any of these topics, please read the article in full.

What is CBD?

CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol is a part of the cannabis plant. What makes it interesting is that, unlike the famous THC, it does not affect your psycho-motor functions. In other words, it does not make you feel high, at the same time it retains some of the possible health benefits.

If you are not that familiar with CBD terminology, you might not understand the above. This is why we will try to break it down for you.


Cannabis is so famous, that you without a doubt know something about it. Throughout time, the regulation and treatment of the plant went through various stages. In some parts of the world, it was and still is celebrated for its beneficial effects on human health, in other parts it has been prohibited and its uses were made illegal.

On top of that, you should know that there are different types of cannabis plants. The most famous two are marijuana and hemp, and they differ significantly in the chemical aspect as well as in the legal aspect. We will take a closer look at both, but let's first describe the history of cannabis in Japan.

Cannabis has been an important plant in Japan for thousands of years. Findings of cannabis seeds and woven fibers date back to 10.000 BCE. There is no historic evidence of smoking cannabis in Japan, but there are some signs that the plant had been used for medical use. On top of that, it has tremendous symbolic value in Japan and it was used for building shrines.

The main law dealing with cannabis is the Cannabis Control Act, passed in 1948 - under the occupation of the United States. The second major piece of legislation is the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act. The laws prescribe harsh treatment of cannabis and consequently difficult conditions for CBD use. All of this presents a big barrier to enter the Japanese CBD market and makes it difficult to produce competitive CBD oil and other products in Japan.


Marijuana is certainly the most famous of the two. It receives much more attention than hemp, due to its high level of THC, which causes users to feel intoxicated and impairs their normal abilities. It is currently illegal. Possession, use, and sale of marijuana are punished with up to 10 years in prison and a hefty fine. We advise you to strictly follow the law, or you might find yourself in big trouble.

Marijuana buds

Despite the effort of some groups and growing evidence of its benefits, Japan does not have a medical cannabis program. Unfortunately, this means that patients cannot legally purchase medical cannabis to alleviate their health issues. Hopefully, this will soon change.


The second type of cannabis is hemp, sometimes it is called industrial hemp, as it is usually used for industrial means - you can find it in the food industry, textile industry, and elsewhere. Hemp does not contain THC, which makes it interesting if you want to benefit from the possible health effects of cannabis. It is also legal under Japanese laws, albeit with some restrictions, that are a bit stricter than it is usually outside of Japan.

Hemp plant
Hemp plant

For example, if you want to grow hemp you need to obtain a permit from the authorities. There are different permits, depending on THC content in your product, it is much easier if your hemp has low THC content. You should take care that your THC content is virtually zero, as Japan is strict on the matter of THC. So we advise you to carefully plan and choose your hemp seeds.

Back to CBD

So CBD is a part of the cannabis plant that does not make you  feel high and might have some health benefits. But how do scientists get CBD from the plant into oil or other products?

In short, scientists extract CBD from the plant so that they isolate it from other cannabinoids. Most importantly, they separate it from the psychoactive substances (THC). They can then use the extracted substance to make CBD infused cannabis oil or other products.  If you want an in-depth, scientific look at CBD, please read our article here.

CBD laws in Japan

Generally speaking, CBD products are legal in Japan, but you have to be careful in what way you sell them and how you extract the CBD from the plant. Unlike most countries in the western world, Japanese laws strictly regulate CBD products and their uses. However, the laws do not strictly differentiate between various types of cannabis. The Cannabis Control Act regulates which parts of cannabis you can use to make CBD oils and other products. These products must be THC free.

The strict regulation of CBD products is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard to navigate the regulatory world of CBD oil, which makes it harder to launch your product in Japan. On the other hand, when you are dealing with your business partners you can trust that their products meet rigorous standards.

Despite the strict regulatory regime, the CBD market is expanding, and quality CBD products can be found in health food stores in big cities such as Tokyo and at major transportation hubs, like Haneda airport.

Let's take a closer look at some of the provisions of the laws.

CBD oils sold in Japan must be THC free, as even small amounts of THC are illegal in Japan and are heavily punished.

Furthermore, CBD oils and similar products can only be marketed as food supplements or food products on the Japanese market. Any mentioning of CBD health benefits is not allowed. There is some hope that this might change, as the public opinion regarding new products seems to be changing fast.

To recap, CBD oil is legal in Japan, if it does not contain THC and is labeled as food or cosmetics and not a medicinal product.

With CBD becoming increasingly popular all around the world, people of different professions are trying it out to help with their issues. The profession of a person usually has nothing to do with what they consume - as long as it is legal, but if you are a member of the armed forces things can get a bit trickier.

There are plenty of US military members stationed around Japan, and they, like other people, would like to buy CBD in Japan, but is this legal?

According to the information from the US Defense department use of products containing CBD is not legal for people employed in the US military, as the use of CBD might result in a false positive drug test.

Selling CBD oil

If you are thinking of starting your own CBD business, there are a number of things to consider.

You are free to sell CBD oil if you meet the following - so your product is extracted from proper parts of the cannabis and does not contain THC, it is not advertised for medical purposes but only as a  food supplement.

  • Your product is extracted from the proper parts of the cannabis plant
  • Contains virtually zero THC
  • Not advertised for medical purposes but as a food supplement

We urge you to carefully check out your hemp supplier. As explained above you can only bring CBD products to the market if they contain virtually zero THC. 

CBD oil
CBD oil

If you are looking for a trusted supplier of CBD oil, we recommend Essentia Pura. We are a young Slovenian company, specializing in the wholesale of CBD oils. We take pride in being compliance-oriented and thoroughly researching the regulatory landscape of the country of business. Please, check out our website for more details. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us. Our professional staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

Exporting CBD oil to Japan

Many established brands in the west would like to export their CBD oils to new markets, such as Japan. As we now know, the regulation of CBD is a bit more strict in Japan than in Europe. Exporting your CBD products from the west to Japan can be a difficult task.

You should of course follow all the regulations from the Cannabis Control Act. On top of that, you have to consider regulations of your product that differ from product to product. If you are selling food supplements the permits you need to obtain are different than if you are exporting cosmetics.

We advise you to find the local legal counsel that will guide you to the process of getting all the necessary permits for your products.

Buying CBD in Japan

Buying CBD is possible both online and in a regular shop. We usually recommend e-commerce stores due to a wider range of CBD oil on offer, but in this case, we urge you to be careful. The strict regulation of CBD in Japan means that any product produced outside of Japan should be carefully examined. You could quickly find yourself with an illegal product.

Consumers on the Japanese market currently have a wider variety of products available than you might think. You can choose between CBD isolate products or broad-spectrum CBD.

At this moment we think it is wiser to buy CBD oil from established Japanese brands. There are a number of Japanese companies that are compliance-oriented and offer proven high-quality products. - such as Healthytokyo or MUKOOMI.

We recommend you check out some online stores and pay a visit to your local CBD shop for a taste of high-quality CBD products made in Japan.


Let us quickly review what we have learned in the article:

  • CBD oil is legal in Japan but only under strict conditions. 
  • It can be used if you isolate CBD from hemp and if it does not contain any THC. 
  • Nonetheless, the number of people that regularly use CBD is rising and you can freely shop for CBD online and in cities such as Tokyo. 
  • There are a number of prominent brands, such as Healthytokyo that offer broad-spectrum CBD for you to buy.
  • Despite the strict regulation of CBD oil in Japan, we believe that the future of CBD oil in Japan is bright, as public opinion is shifting fast in recent years.

If you want to learn more about the regulation of CBD oil in other countries, you are welcome to read our articles about: