The 12th June issue of Jinja Shinpō carried yet another article about hemp. This one reported on a meeting of a study group at the National Diet, where Diet members were told about some of the details of how varieties of hemp could be regulated to avoid growing versions with detectable levels of THC, and so on. It really sounds like it was a study group.
There were some Diet members associated with Shinto present to make the report seem more appropriate to the venue, but even so there have been a lot of articles about this topic recently. Why?
One reason is that this is something that parts of the Shinto community have been working on for years, and it is finally getting traction. The enforcement of existing regulations has already been changed, and the law is very likely to be changed in the near future. (I’m not sure whether the vote has happened, or whether it’s waiting for a Diet slot, but the phrasing of this article implies that the law hasn’t changed yet, although the changes are essentially decided.) This is something worth celebrating.
I think another reason is to subtly encourage priests to buy domestically grown hemp for use in their matsuri. The regulatory changes are essential if domestic hemp cultivation is to expand rather than dying out, but it is also important to have people buying the hemp. Shinto priests need hemp for matsuri, and they are likely to be willing to pay a premium to get Japanese-grown hemp. There are also 20,000 of them, with 80,000 jinja — it’s a big enough market to get things off the ground.
Thus, I think that these articles are not just reporting on attempts by the Shinto community to reestablish domestic hemp cultivation. I think they are a central part of those efforts.