CBD and Japan: All Your Questions Answered

Hemp was once cultivated across Japan. Now CBD is legal but THC is not.

As a Hawaiian CBD brand, our products are sold in a lot of island hotels, resorts, spas and tourist hot spots. Given the large number of Japanese tourists visiting Hawaii (pre-pandemic and hopefully again soon), we are often asked about the legality of CBD in Japan. We’re happy to say that not only can you take any and all of our Hawaiian Choice CBD products to Japan with you, you can also purchase them in stores in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka or have them shipped directly to you. However, not all CBD is legal in Japan. Please read on to learn what is and isn’t allowed in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Is CBD legal in Japan?

Yes, CBD is legal in Japan. However, CBD products cannot contain any THC. THC is the part of the hemp and cannabis plant that is psychoactive, which means it gets you high. In the United States, the legal limit of THC in CBD products is 0.3%. If you’re ordering CBD products from abroad or bringing them from another country into Japan, you need to be sure that they do not contain any THC. (Hawaiian Choice products do NOT contain THC and are therefore legal in Japan!)

How do I know if a CBD product contains THC?

Products marked as “Broad Spectrum CBD” or “CBD Isolate” do not contain any THC and are allowed in Japan. Meanwhile, “Full Spectrum CBD” products will contain trace amounts of THC and are illegal in Japan. (Hawaiian Choice only uses Broad Spectrum CBD/ Zero THC)

What’s the difference between Broad Spectrum and Isolate?

Broad Spectrum CBD starts as a Full Spectrum CBD oil. Then, all traces of THC are filtered out to below lab detectable levels. This method leaves the other beneficial rare cannabinoids (such as CBN and CBG) and terpenes intact for a richer more beneficial oil. A CBD isolate is just CBD. It does not contain any of the other beneficial plant compounds and is not believed to be as effective as a broad spectrum oil. CBD afficionados often compare an isolate to broad spectrum oil as a Vitamin C pill versus eating the whole orange. CBD isolates and Vitamin C pills are good for you, but you miss out on all the extra phytochemicals, flavonoids and antioxidants found in plant-based foods that are also linked to multiple health benefits.

How can I be sure that Zero THC CBD really means Zero THC?

Zero THC means that no traces of THC were found in third-party lab tests of the CBD products. Whatever CBD product you buy, make sure that you double check the company’s independent lab report results for the batch you are purchasing. You can find Hawaiian Choice CBD lab reports here.

Where can I find CBD in Japan?

CBD is sold in many different types of stores in Japan, from beauty bars to CBD specialty shops. For example, Hawaiian Choice is sold at luxury department store Daimaru Shinsaibashi in Osaka, LoFT Ginza (6-floors filled with curated lifestyle goods in Tokyo), CBD Shop Fukuoka, Beauty Library Aoyama, Flavorlife Aroma Shop and more. You can see our CBD store locator here.

Is it legal to buy CBD online in Japan? Can CBD be shipped to me in Japan?

Yes, it’s legal to buy CBD online in Japan and have it shipped to you as long as it does not contain THC. Hawaiian Choice offers free international shipping on all orders over $300. You can shop for CBD online here.

Can I take CBD products to Japan with me?

Yes, you can take CBD products to Japan with you but again, they cannot contain any THC at all. A lot of Japanese tourists find our Hawaiian Choice products in the dozens of ABC Stores in Waikiki, International Marketplace, Ala Moana Shopping Center and around Oahu as well as at Hemptuary, Down to Earth stores, and specialty stores.

Are all types of CBD products allowed in Japan? CBD tinctures, CBD gummies, CBD vape pens etc.?

Yes, all CBD products that do not contain any THC at all are allowed in Japan. Hawaiian Choice sells four different CBD oil tinctures, Relax, Relief, Focus and Active, as well as a Pet CBD Oil tincture. We also sell a CBD topical gel and vegan CBD jellies, which are like a tasty, grown-up version of the CBD gummy. We focus on the health benefits of our products and all are infused with organic or wild crafted Hawaiian fruits, essential oils or organic honey. All of our products contain broad spectrum CBD without any THC, so they can be bought in Japan or taken to Japan. We do not feel that smoking or vaping promote wellness in the same way and therefore do not sell Hawaiian CBD flowers to smoke or CBD vape pens.

How can I sell Hawaiian Choice CBD in Japan?

If you are interested in selling Hawaiian Choice CBD at your store or location in Japan, please fill out our wholesale registration form, telling us about your business and we will reply by the following day. You can find our wholesale registration form in English here. And, our wholesale registration form in Japanese can be found here.

What happens if you are caught with THC in Japan?

The penalty is high! But, remember you can easily find CBD products that you don’t need to worry about. So, there is no need to fear. Products with any amount of THC in them are illegal under Japan’s Cannabis Control Act. Possession can lead to up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $18,000. While that law is designed to prevent the use of cannabis as a psychoactive drug, do NOT risk having anything with any amount of THC in it. Lab tested broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolates are allowed in Japan. Just avoid full spectrum products or those that you cannot be sure contain Zero THC.

What is the history of cannabis and hemp in Japan?

Interest in CBD for health, wellness, relaxation and relief is growing rapidly in Japan but it is largely seen as a product coming in from the West. Meanwhile, cannabis (marijuana) is often seen as a counterculture drug. However, cannabis and hemp actually have a long history in Japan.

Pottery relics dating to the Jomon Period (10,000-200 B.C.) have been found containing seeds and scraps of woven hemp fibers.

Cannabis was revered for its cleansing properties and was used in Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion. Small bundles of cannabis leaves were burned to bless people and were put in doorways to welcome back the spirits of the dead during the summer Obon Festival.

Cannabis was cultivated all over Japan until the mid-20th century and references to it can be found in ninja training and poetry. Cannabis-based cures, which were popular in China, were also available in Japan to help with pain and sleep. However, no one is sure if cannabis was smoked in Japan. Some believe that it was the poor man’s drug of choice as rice wine sake was expensive and was drunk only by the elite. But, there’s no hard evidence of it being smoked in Japan.

Hemp fiber was widely used for textiles, rope, parachutes and more during WWII. After the United States won the war, they brought their laws against hemp and cannabis to Japan. Washington had effectively outlawed cannabis in United States in 1937 and put the Cannabis Control Act into place in Japan in 1948.

Some hemp farms were allowed to continue to operate but only with hemp containing very low amounts of THC. The number dropped from 25,000 farms in 1950 to fewer than 60 these days.

As interest in hemp, CBD and even cannabis grow in Japan, more people are researching the history of the plant and promoting its historical roots as well as its health and wellness benefits. There’s even a cannabis museum – Taima Hakubutsukan – which is dedicated to preserving the history of cannabis in Japan. You can read about the museum, its founder and learn more about the history of cannabis in Japan in this article from The Japan Times.