Japan's health ministry has decided to ban a compound with properties similar to those found in cannabis. More than a score of people in the country have fallen sick after consuming gummy candies containing the substance.
At an emergency meeting on Tuesday, a health ministry panel of experts approved the regulation of hexahydrocannabihexol, or HHCH, on the grounds that it could trigger health problems.
HHCH will be added to the list of designated drugs on Wednesday. And its possession, use and distribution will be prohibited from December 2.
Since the start of this year, more than 20 people in Tokyo and Osaka have reported falling ill after consuming the gummy candies produced by a company in Osaka.
Officials from the Health Ministry and its Narcotics Control Department identified HHCH in gummies on sale at a store they inspected in Tokyo.
The ministry is now considering a comprehensive ban of all compounds with a similar chemical structure, in order to prevent the future use of other similar cannabis-like chemicals.