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Religious Group Gets License To Grow Hemp For Spiritual Use

Now that a religious group gets license to grow hemp for spiritual use, it could open the door for other groups to do the same.

A.J. Herrington

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Religious Group Gets License To Grow Hemp For Spiritual Use

After a ruling from a Japanese local government, a religious group gets license to grow hemp for spiritual use. The Mie Prefectural Government granted the permit to grow hemp Thursday to an association of officials from Shinto shrines. Mie Prefecture is located in the Kansai region of Honshu, the largest and most populated island of Japan.

The prefectural government issued the license under the authority of the country’s Cannabis Control Law. The measure allows the cultivation of hemp, cannabis with little THC, for use in traditional rituals. It was the first time the Mie Prefectural Government has issued such a license.

As of December 2016, 37 groups in 12 other Japanese prefectures have been granted licenses to grow hemp, according to the Japanese health ministry.

Hemp Has Ritual Value In Japan

Shinto is a Japanese religion that dates back to the 8th Century. Its tenets include a deep respect for ancestors and a belief in natural spirits in both living and nonliving things. Until 1945, Shinto was the state religion of Japan.

Practitioners of the Shinto faith use cannabis fiber to create several items used in traditional rituals. Hemp ropes known as shimenawa are hung at the entrance of Shinto shrines, for example.

People have been cultivating hemp in Japan since the stone age. They originally used its fibers to weave fabric and baskets. The plant was introduced to the country from China, perhaps by way of Korea.

Hitoshi Nitta is a leader of the Shinto association in Mie and a professor at Kogakkan University in Ise. He told local media that people should preserve hemp agriculture and history in Japan. He also noted that many of the farmers with knowledge of traditional cannabis farming techniques are now elderly.

“Cannabis cultivation and processing techniques will disappear unless we work hard now (to preserve them),” Nitta said. “We hope to make this association an entity that can play a central role in cannabis production in Japan,” he said.

Final Hit: Religious Group Gets License To Grow Hemp For Spiritual Use

The Shinto association in Mie Prefecture, based in the city of Ise, had applied for a license to grow this type of cannabis once before. They had hoped to cultivate hemp for Shinto shrines nationwide.

But the government denied that application in January of last year. Officials noted that other prefectures have hemp cultivation and that craftspeople can also create traditional items using synthetic fibers.

So, this year the Shinto association only asked for authorization to grow hemp for distribution within Mie Prefecture. The government agreed to that plan but imposed restrictions. The license allows the group to supply the fiber only to two shrines, including Tado Taisha in Kuwana.

The association also must install tight security measures. They must erect a fence at least two meters high around grow sites, and provide video surveillance of the area.

Now that the Shinto association in Mie Prefecture has its cannabis cultivation license, it plans to get right to work. The group will soon be planting seeds and expects to harvest its first crop sometime in August.

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