Tokyo [Japan], November 21:Japanese health ministry on Monday said it plans to ban HHCH, a synthetic compound derived from cannabis, as early as this week, after many people who consumed so-called "cannabis gummies" containing such ingredient were taken to hospital.
KeizoTakemi, minister of Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, told a press conference that the ministry will add HHCH, or hexahydrocannabihexol, to the list of designated substances as early as this week and prohibit its possession, use and distribution.
The minister also advised the public to refrain from consuming cannabis-derived gummies.
Earlier this month, five individuals fell ill after consuming gummies distributed by a man at a festival in western Tokyo, local media reported.
In Japan's western prefecture of Osaka, meanwhile, more than 10 people have been sent to hospital this year after eating gummies potentially containing cannabis derivatives, with symptoms such as vomiting and numbness, according to the prefectural police.
In response to a series of reported health issues linked to the consumption of "cannabis gummies," the health ministry's Narcotics Control Department conducted an on-site inspection on Monday at a company in Osaka that engaged in the production and sale of the gummies.
The inspection, following the detection of HHCH in gummies found at a retail store in Tokyo last week, revealed the presence of such gummies in the warehouse, prompting the ministry to issue a sales suspension order until the results of the component analysis are available.
According to local media reports, the Japanese health ministry is also considering banning all substances with structures similar to HHCH, which can cause hallucinations and memory impairment.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is already banned in Japan as another psychoactive constituent of cannabis.