A Japanese health ministry panel on Tuesday decided to ban HHCH, a synthetic cannabinoid, from Dec. 2 after many people who consumed gummies containing the compound had to go to the hospital.
The panel will add hexahydrocannabihexol to the list of illicit drugs in Japan, encompassing possession, use and distribution, ministry officials said.
Currently, HHCH is not banned in Japan although the substance has structures similar to THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is derived from cannabis and already prohibited in the country.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is also considering banning all substances with chemical structures similar to HHCH, the officials said.
On Nov. 4, five individuals, ranging in age from their teens to their 50s, fell ill after consuming gummies in packages labeled HHCH distributed by a man at a festival in western Tokyo, according to investigative sources.
Following similar cases, the ministry's Narcotics Control Department conducted on-site inspections at the manufacturer of the gummies and stores selling them in Tokyo and Osaka and detected HHCH in some of their products.