Japan Is Inching Toward Cannabis Legalization, Companies Like This One Could Benefit

A Japanese health ministry panel recommended that marijuana-derived medicines be treated the same as pharmaceuticals, reported Bloomberg.

The expert panel, convened on Thursday, recommended a revision of the country's policy on drugs to enable the import, manufacture and use of medicines derived from cannabis.

Why It Matters

The committee said in a report that a policy change would synchronize Japan with international standards while meeting medical needs of the growing nation.

The revision would amend the country's law to include cannabis products that already proved safe and efficient under provisions governing pharmaceuticals and medical devices, such as the cannabis-derived epilepsy drug Epidiolex, subject to clinical trials in Japan.

Epidiolex is the first FDA-authorized CBD medicine for treating children with severe forms of epilepsy. The medicine was first approved for treating seizures connected to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet's syndrome. In July, the FDA also approved Epidiolex for managing seizures related to tuberous sclerosis complex.

Companies Like Jazz Pharmaceuticals Could Benefit

Britain's cannabinoid drug company GW Pharmaceuticals plc, which was acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc JAZZ last year, earlier reported on results of its positive Phase 3 clinical trial of Epidiolex oral solution in seizures related to tuberous sclerosis complex were published in JAMA Neurology. 

The results showed that patients receiving Epidiolex as a treatment had considerably fewer TCS-associated seizures (48.6%) versus placebo (26.5%). This trial was the basis for the July 2020 FDA approval of Epidiolex for TSC-related seizures.

In March, Jazz Pharmaceuticals began constructing its new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Kent Science Park (KSP) in Sittingbourne, UK, with an investment of over $100 million. The new facility is designed to support the company's two regulatory-approved cannabis-based medicines, such as Epidiolex, and to support future capacity for developing new drugs.

Japan's Legalization Efforts

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the country's health ministry held a meeting to negotiate the revision of the Cannabis Control Law from 1948 to streamline the legalization of cannabis for medical use. However, lawmakers also considered adding a provision to criminalize its consumption for recreational purposes.

Photo: Courtesy of Ramdlon, ganjaspliffstoreuk by Pixabay

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