Meet Saya Takagi, a Japanese cannabis activist.


This is the first in a series of blog posts where we’ll take a deep dive into the lives of certain cannabis activists. We’ll examine the contributions they’ve made and the impact they’ve had on cannabis activism and legalization.


Ready? Let’s get into it.


Who is Saya Takagi?



Born Ikue Masudo on August 21, 1963, Saya Takagi is a former actress who became an activist for cannabis legalization in Japan. She received widespread acclaim for her role in the 1994 Japanese drama film Okane ga Nai. Following this, she went on to star in many films and television programs.


After the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011, Takagi became disillusioned by the Japanese media downplaying the radioactivity in Fukushima. She was inspired to leave the world of entertainment and live a more sustainable lifestyle on Ishigaki Island. She began using her platform to promote environmentalism, condemning the use of nuclear energy and advocating for medical cannabis and cannabis by-products.


Takagi’s Cannabis Activism



Takagi reports that she started smoking cannabis at age 17, when Japanese cannabis laws were less strict. She began as an occasional user, but after a trip to India, where she saw cannabis growing out in the wild doing no harm, she concluded that cannabis couldn’t be as sinister as she had been made to believe. As time went on, she became the manager of the Cannabis Inspection Community.


In 2016, Takagi ran for an Upper House seat in Japan’s New Renaissance Party. Her platform included cannabis legalization, with her saying cannabis would be a step in Japan developing environmentally-conscious attitudes. She stated it would make people healthier, and as a result, their thinking would change.


However, things came to a halt later that year. She was arrested at her guesthouse for possession of 55g of cannabis. While she claimed the cannabis did not belong to her, she still received a suspended sentence of 3 years and 1 year in jail. She even spent 6 months in jail awaiting her sentence.


Takagi’s Impact



Despite Japan’s long history of using cannabis in medicine and hemp textiles, modern-day Japan doesn’t look too kindly on cannabis. Cannabis-related offences in Japan have some of the strictest penalties in the world, with possession alone carrying up to 5 years imprisonment.


The same can be said about Japanese society, for the most part. Takagi received bad media publicity and backlash from the masses for her radical opinions. Many of the works she starred in were taken down from online listings. Some, such as a TV adaption of the manga Akujo Seisho, disappeared completely.


However, she has received support from Japanese citizens living abroad, patients in need of medical cannabis, and followers of Shintoism. The Shinto faith focuses on the presence of God in nature, and cannabis is often associated with divine spirits.


Takagi has expressed her views at numerous rallies for cannabis legalization in Japan. Through these rallies, she has met Japanese citizens that support her cause, fuelling her to continue in her mission. Her work has brought more attention to the use of cannabis in Japan. Interestingly, CBD products have begun to see circulation in Japan. Hopefully, with more people like Takagi, Japan will finally start to see the benefits that cannabis offers.


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Pioneer Japanese cannabis activist Saya Takagi on running for office, getting arrested & more

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