Japanese Health Ministry to ban cannabis-derived compound HHCH following illnesses linked to “cannabis gummies”

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21st November 2023 – (Tokyo) The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announced on Monday its plans to ban HHCH, a synthetic compound derived from cannabis, as early as this week. The decision comes in response to a string of incidents where individuals who consumed “cannabis gummies” containing HHCH were hospitalized.

Keizo Takemi, the minister of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, revealed during a press conference that HHCH, also known as hexahydrocannabihexol, will be added to the list of designated substances and its possession, use, and distribution will be prohibited.

Minister Takemi also advised the public to refrain from consuming any cannabis-derived gummies.

The urgency behind the ban stems from recent cases where people fell ill after consuming gummies distributed by an individual at a festival in western Tokyo earlier this month. Local media reported five individuals experiencing adverse effects as a result.

In Osaka, a western prefecture of Japan, more than 10 people have been hospitalized this year after consuming gummies that potentially contained cannabis derivatives. Symptoms reported included vomiting and numbness, according to the prefectural police.

In response to these incidents, Japan’s health ministry’s Narcotics Control Department conducted an on-site inspection on Monday at a company in Osaka involved in the production and sale of these gummies. The inspection, prompted by the discovery of HHCH in gummies found at a retail store in Tokyo last week, revealed the presence of similar gummies in the warehouse. As a result, the ministry issued a sales suspension order until the results of the component analysis are available.

Reports suggest that the Japanese health ministry is also contemplating the prohibition of all substances with structures resembling HHCH, as they can lead to hallucinations and memory impairment.

It’s worth noting that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another psychoactive constituent of cannabis, is already banned in Japan.