Here are our key findings:
Up until 1948, hemp was part of life in Japan. Hemp has long been revered as a sacred plant and symbol of purity and fertility in Shintoism, a Japanese religion. Hemp fibers were used to create ropes in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. However, the passage of Japan’s Cannabis Control Act in 1948 saw the state adopt a strong stance against cannabis and hemp, conflating the two plants. According to the Act, “cannabis” refers to all the products of the cannabis plant, with the exclusion of the stalk and the seeds.
CBD products are legal in Japan, provided that they are 100% free of THC and produced from the stalk and the seeds of the plant. Given this strict legislation, only CBD isolate and broad spectrum products that are entirely free of THC are legal for purchase and consumption.This may change in the years to come, with a number of medical and consumer interest groups campaigning for change.
Despite the strict rules in place, Japanese CBD consumers and retailers have enthusiastically embraced the cannabinoid. CBD speciality stores have popped up across Japan, and CBD is available in pharmacies, airports, beauty stores and cafes.
In this Leafreport guide, we’ll reveal our list of the top five CBD brands available in Japan. We’ll also share our list of all brands that are currently shipping to the region, and explain the laws governing the sale and purchase of CBD. Lastly, we’ll give you some expert tips on shopping for CBD, so you can be informed and empowered.
Despite the strident rules laid out in Japan’s Cannabis Control Act, a selection of reputable CBD retailers currently ship to the nation. The brands we’ve chosen below are perfect for Japanese consumers, as they offer CBD isolate or broad-spectrum products that are entirely free of THC.
For a brief breakdown of the scoring categories that we use to evaluate each brand, read on.
Leafreport has developed a comprehensive rating system for evaluating CBD brands. We
calculate our score by assessing five criteria, which are described below. After adding the scores across the five categories, we award the brand a total score out of 100.
Here are the five key criteria that we measure:
Purelix reveals very little about its founders or mission–an oversight that detracts from the brand’s overall transparency. Nonetheless, the certificate of analysis (CoA) for each product can easily be accessed online by scanning the QR code on the product label, or visiting MyCBDTest.com and inputting the batch code provided on the packaging.
It’s unclear from the website whether the brand uses CBD derived from USDA organic hemp in all of its products. All formulations, however, are manufactured in a lab that strictly adheres to FDA guidelines for good manufacturing processes (GMP). All Purelix products are subjected to purity testing for contaminants, heavy metals and pesticides.
Purelix Wellness offers just a handful of products that are available either in edible or topical format. There are also several products dedicated to your furry friends. All Purelix products are broad-spectrum, and free from THC.
The website is clear and easy to navigate, and it’s easy to reach out to customer service representatives with questions or comments. There’s a full FAQ page that addresses common queries.
Purelix Wellness products have an average price point of $.12 per mg of CBD, which is average compared to other certified organic brands in the market that are also GMP compliant. You can also access discounts for new customers and subscribers.
Purelix Wellness is a Wilmington, North Carolina-based CBD manufacturer. The brand ships to countries across the globe, including Japan. Purelix offers a range of edible and topical products for customers who are looking to reap the benefits of broad-spectrum CBD, without any trace of THC. For Japanese customers who are limited to THC-free CBD products, Purelix Wellness represents an ideal option. The brand prides itself on CBD formulations that are created in GMP facilities using mostly organic products. Within the edible range, there are different flavors and a range of concentrations available. Purelix also has a point of difference with its melatonin-infused sleep softgels, and another softgel option that contains curcumin (turmeric) to help ease muscle and joint aches.
One disadvantage associated with Purelix is that it’s difficult to tell whether all the products are USDA certified organic. Some carry the USDA organic certification but others are ambiguous. It’s also challenging to find out information about the hemp from which the CBD is extracted. There’s no clear indication on the website if it’s grown in North Carolina on partner farms, or if it’s farmed sustainably or regeneratively. The lack of this information creates a slight disconnect for consumers who may like to know the provenance of the product they’re purchasing.
If you’re looking for a brand with a mission, Root Wellness delivers. The company claims that it’s dedicated to a vision of contributing not only to wellbeing, but to a healthier planet too. Curiously, there’s very little information about the founders or creators behind Root Wellness.
While it appears that the brand uses CBD extracted from organic hemp, it’s difficult to confirm if this is the case. There’s no official Root Wellness webpage, so it’s near impossible to source information about how the hemp is grown, or the CBD is extracted.
Root Wellness offers a very select range of products which may deter those who enjoy having access to a range of flavors, concentrations, and delivery formats. All products are broad-spectrum, with the exception of one full-spectrum tincture.
Customer reviews suggest that there’s a high level of customer satisfaction associated with the brand’s products, and many returning buyers. However, without a dedicated website, it’s challenging to ask questions about products, or learn more about how the brand’s cultivation and extraction processes.
Root Wellness products are priced slightly lower than its competitors. Most products are priced at $0.05 – $0.2 per milligram of CBD. The industry average is $0.12 per milligram of CBD.
Based in the US, Root Wellness ships worldwide–including Japan. The brand offers just a handful of products, but most customers will find that there’s something for everyone, with balms, gummies, soft gels, and tinctures on offer. Japanese customers will be particularly appreciative that all the products in the Root Wellness range are broad-spectrum, with the exception of one tincture that contains THC. Broad-spectrum products allow consumers to access the synergistic benefits of diverse cannabinoids and terpenes working in concert, without the presence of THC. Another point of difference that distinguishes Root Wellness from competitors is its focus on manufacturing CBD products that support the health of the planet. Every sale results in a donation to support reforestation efforts.
The major drawback with Root Wellness is the lack of a dedicated website profiling the brand and its products. Root retails its products using CBD sales platforms, which makes sourcing information about their cultivation and manufacturing process challenging. There are no avenues available to reach out to customer service experts either. Some of the CBD sales platforms offer links to lab reports for products, but these are not always easy to find. From the material that can be gleaned from third-party sales platforms, it’s difficult to formulate an understanding of the brand’s origins, farming practices, founders or ethos.
HempMeds is a CBD company with a truly global reach. The US website details the brand’s timeline from its inception in 2012 (as one of the first medical cannabis brands on the market) to 2017 when it spoke on the behalf of the CBD industry to the UN.
HempMeds CBD is extracted from non-GMO hemp that is cultivated naturally without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. It’s unclear, however, whether the hemp is certified organic.
HempsMeds offers such an array of products that the range could almost be overwhelming to novice buyers. There are CBD isolates, broad-spectrum (filtered) products, CBDa rich blends, and full-spectrum capsules, tinctures, and topicals.
Customers can reach out the brand via a number of avenues, but overall, the website feels as though it’s designed for industry, rather than for customers looking to learn and engage with products.
HempMeds price point is very competitive in comparison to other brands. The price per milligram of CBD varies from $0.08 to $1, depending on the product. There are discounts available for veterans.
HempMeds is a truly global CBD company. The brand has bases in the US, UK, and various countries in Latin America, and ships to diverse countries around the world. Without doubt, one of the strengths of HempMeds is its staggering array of diverse CBD products that include full spectrum, broad spectrum, CBDa rich, and CBD isolate blends. For Japanese consumers looking for CBD products that are completely free of THC or any other cannabinoid, the CBD isolate product line may represent an appealing option. HempMeds is also one of the most established CBD retailers on the market. The brand was the first company to establish a global hemp distribution model, and the first to get CBD into the market in the US. With this legacy, HempMeds takes its reputation seriously, and tests all CBD products three times before releasing them for retail. All lab results are shared on the brand’s website, upholding their dedication to transparency. There are also fascinating educational resources and articles on the website that support consumers in their quest for learning more about CBD and its applications.
One of the drawbacks of HempMeds’ offering is that the website may appear intimidating for a novice buyer. The sheer selection of products, delivery formats, concentrations, flavors and formulations could feel overwhelming. There’s no FAQ page to help answer common questions, and the overall feeling emitted by the website is that it’s designed for a wholesale buyer or expert CBD consumer who knows exactly what they’re looking for.
NatureCan carries out third-party potency tests and some purity testing for its products. While the brand offers links to its Labdoor ratings, it’s challenging to find the potency and purity tests for each product on the website, since there’s no centralized certificate of analysis hub.
The website states that Naturecan is an authorized grower of hemp sourced from several regulated farms in Oregon. The brand’s broad-spectrum distillate is extracted using a clean ethanol extraction method before being teamed with organic MCT oil as a carrier oil for maximum bioavailability.
NatureCan offers a range of broad spectrum CBD products that are available as tinctures, softgel capsules, edibles, topicals, pet chews, vape juice, and beauty items.
If you have questions, NatureCan offers a virtual customer chat, email, and an easy-to-use webform that allows for a quick connection with a customer service representative. There’s also a comprehensive FAQ page.
On the US NatureCan site, the product range has an average price point of $.14. Naturecan’s prices are average compared to other US brands.
NatureCan is a UK-based CBD brand that ships to various countries around the world. The company is a member of the ACI, which is a trade organization committed to developing and nurturing a safe, well regulated CBD market in the UK. There’s abundant information on the website about the vast team behind NatureCan, and the diverse sustainability initiatives that the brand supports. When it comes to the provenance of the CBD used in NatureCan products, the brand states that everything is traceable from the seed to the final distilled oil. The brand’s hemp is grown in Oregon, and the website claims that their hemp strains are unique because they contain high levels of CBD, minor cannabinoids and terpenes, without THC
However, those who care about the provenance of their CBD may be concerned that there’s no evidence that the brand uses organic hemp. What’s more, some products are subjected to third-party purity testing, but not all products. When Leafreport ordered from Naturecan, two products were missing purity tests. Purity testing is particularly critical in ensuring the product is free of contaminants, heavy metals, microbes, or pesticide residue. For NatureCan to fully uphold its commitment to traceability and transparency, it needs to be forthcoming information about its cultivation and manufacturing process, and ensures access to purity and potency tests for each and every product.
Penguin CBD tests its products at the reputable ProVerde Laboratories. Lab reports for each product type can be accessed via the Lab Reports tab, but you’ll need to ensure the lab report matches the batch number on your product.
Penguin uses hemp cultivated in Oregon, which has ideal conditions for growing the crop. The brand claims to use zero pesticides during the cultivation process, and states that it engages in sustainable farming practices. It’s unclear, however, if the hemp is certified organic.
Penguin’s product range is limited. That being said, the brand covers all the major bases by offering a tincture, edibles, cream, and capsules. There are several flavor options available in the tincture (including cookies and cream), as well as a number of potencies on offer.
For a novice buyer, Penguin’s product range is ideal, with all the delivery methods clearly outlined and explained. The website is well organized and very aesthetically engaging. Each product option is explained in a straightforward way, and customers are offered the option to create a subscription so they can receive their preferred product on a monthly basis at a discount.
Penguin’s pricing is a little higher than comparable brands, but is still very reasonable. Prices range from $0.15 to $0.31 per milligram of CBD.
Curiously named Penguin CBD claims that their brand name is inspired by penguins, with their calm, unflappable attitude. The company clearly endeavors to make their CBD online shopping experience laid-back too, with a website that makes purchasing CBD super easy. The brand offers broad-spectrum tinctures, creams and capsules, and gummies made with CBD isolate. Japanese customers can have the best of both worlds, and rest assured that regardless of what they choose, the product will be free of THC. Penguin uses CO2 extraction, a very safe and clean extraction method, to isolate CBD from its hemp. There’s a little information about the team behind Penguin, stating that the founders consist of specialists from different industries who are united in their goal to bring CBD to households everywhere.
That being said, it would be nice to know more about those who founded Penguin, and the provenance of the hemp. The consumer is left wondering whether it’s sustainably farmed, and what special measures are made to ensure it’s pesticide-free. There’s also a conspicuous lack of information on the webpage, which is missing educational resources. The FAQ page is very brief, and customers can only reach out using the webform or send an email.
The sale and purchase of CBD in Japan is strongly influenced by legislation that’s more than 70 years old, which has never been updated. The cannabinoid is the Cannabis Control Act, which was introduced in 1948. The Cannabis Control Act conflates industrial hemp and cannabis, subjecting both to the same rules.
The Act was imposed following the US occupation of Japan after WWII, and was designed to bring Japanese policy in line with the anti-cannabis and anti-hemp sentiment that was prevalent in the US at the time. Prior to the Act, hemp and cannabis were sacred, valued plants used in Japan for medicinal and ritual purposes. Hemp, which was once widely cultivated, became scarce. Nowadays, individuals who wish to grow hemp must seek a license from their local prefecture. These licenses, however, are rarely awarded.
According to the 1948 legislation, the buds, flowers, and leaves of the cannabis plant are illegal, due to the presence of THC. However, the seeds and stems of the cannabis plant are completely legal. CBD products that are completely free of any THC are legal in Japan. Broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are therefore both legal, but full spectrum CBD is not. Products should have CBD extracted from the hemp seeds and stems, but as most CBD retailers do not specify the parts of the plant used to extract CBD, this rule appears harder to enforce.
Although the country adheres to very strict rules regarding CBD, the CBD market is blossoming and products are available in diverse retail spaces and settings. Imported products that abide by Japanese rules are also welcome in the market, so there’s a range of brands available in storefronts.
Shoppers who abide by Japanese law when purchasing CBD will be unlikely to experience any difficulties. It’s essential to be aware, however, that lengthy, harsh sentences are possible for those who violate the law. Products containing THC could be seized by customs, with the buyer possibly subject to prosecution.
That being said, there’s currently lobbying and calls to change the antiquated 1948 Cannabis Control Act–so watch this space.
Japanese CBD buyers can choose from a select range of CBD brands that ship from Europe and North America. While the list may look limited, it contains an abundance of products available from some highly reputable brands.
Despite the strict rules that govern the sale of CBD in Japan, the nation has a flourishing CBD industry. CBD edibles, topicals, capsules, tinctures, and beauty products are available in a range of stores. Major cities like Tokyo have recently witnessed a surge in CBD cafes and eateries, where curious consumers can experiment with CBD-infused coffees, teas, and snacks. Japan’s fixation with clean, minimalist beauty products (J-beauty) has also seen the rise of luxe skin care and cosmetics brands infused with CBD.
If you live in Japan, or even if you’re just visiting, it’s worth heading to the high street to explore the range of CBD products on offer. One of the benefits of Japan’s strict legislation is that it’s very difficult for substandard, illegal products to slip through the cracks. If you’re in bustling Tokyo, some of the most renowned shops to visit include Healthy Tokyo–a vegan-friendly health-food cafe stocking products infused with CBD. CBD Lab Denenchofu and CBD Green Store also represent popular options with Tokyo locals. Shopping for CBD in person also comes with other advantages, too. Japanese CBD stores have knowledgeable staff available to help you make decisions, and you can access a diverse selection of CBD brands and products that conform with government guidelines.
However, online shopping also has its drawcards. Buying CBD products online allows you to shop from the comfort of your home, taking your time comparing products, brands, and prices. There’s another added bonus, too: online shopping is also often more cost-effective than buying from stores, as there are no added overheads.
Regardless of whether you buy CBD online or in stores, it’s always advisable to check the safety and quality of products before you purchase. One of the most straightforward ways to do this is by checking for the product’s certificate of analysis (CoA). The certificate of analysis will tell you if the product has been independently tested for purity or potency. Potency tests reveal if the product contains the level of CBD stated on the label (or within 10% variance), and purity tests identify if there are any harmful levels of contaminants including microbes, heavy metals, or pesticide residue. If you’re unsure of how to read a certificate of analysis, take a look at our video guide that demystifies the process.
Buying CBD in Japan can feel intimidating due to the stringent rules outlined in the 1948 Cannabis Control Act. However, the main thing to remember is that CBD can be legally purchased and consumed in Japan, provided it’s free from THC and has been sourced from the stems and seeds of the plant.
The thriving CBD industry is testament to the number of Japanese people who have embraced this cannabinoid in their daily lives. The availability and popularity of diverse CBD products suggests that despite the strict laws regarding cannabis, the CBD market has found a way to flourish in Japan.