The cultivation and consumption of cannabis in Japan has skyrocketed in recent years despite harsh prison sentences and disproportionate fines
Japan’s law on cannabis is very hard. The cultivation, import or export of cannabis is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The penalty can be up to 10 years, and possibly a maximum fine of $ 27,500 for those who have participated in these acts to make a profit.
The possession, distribution or receipt of marijuana can involve up to five years in prison, while those for profit can be penalized with a maximum of seven years in prison and a fine of up to $ 18,362.
The Japanese authorities are so strict that when Canada legalized marijuana last year, the Consulate of Japan in Vancouver warned its citizens through the official website that although Canada legalized the possession and use of marijuana, acts such as owning or buying the drugs are illegal in Japan and are subject to legal sanctions. He said that the Cannabis Control Law may be applicable for actions performed by Japanese abroad.
The consulate demanded that Japanese citizens living or traveling abroad respect Japanese laws and stay away from marijuana. A Japanese language notice dated October 11 issued by the consulate general in Toronto made a similar request.
Although stimulants are still the illegal drug most pursued by the police in Japan, cannabis use is increasing much more than stimulants or cocaine.
Last year, police arrested 3,578 people related to cannabis crimes. This figure represents an increase of 570 with respect to the previous year. And so far this year the figure has increased to 4687 people.
80% of cannabis cases in 2018 were related to possession for sale, cultivation and reception. The crop has had a large increase, with 152 people arrested in 2018, compared to 116 in 2014. An increasing proportion of these are growing cannabis for sale. In total, 762 people, or 21.3%, were members of criminal organizations.
The number of people in an age close to twenty years detained for cannabis-related offenses in 2018 increased in recent years from 347 to 1,521, which represents an increase of 42.5% since 2014. In a considerable increase among the Minors, 429 people under 20 were arrested in cases related to cannabis, which represents an interannual increase of 132.
The total number of people arrested for cannabis offenses was 3.5 per 100,000 citizens, an increase from the rate of 3.0 in 2017. The increase among Japanese youth is especially important. While 5 out of every 100,000 people in their 20s were arrested for marijuana cases in 2014, the number increased to 9.4 in 2017 and up to 12.2 in 2018. In the case of those under 20, the number increased from 1.1 in 2014 to 4.1 in 2017 and 6.0 in 2018.
Recently the police arrested a 23-year-old police officer for alleged possession of marijuana in the family home. In effect, Wataru Umekita, a police officer from Kyoto Prefecture, owned marijuana for his own use. A pipe was also found to smoke the drug at his family’s home in Moriguchi.
Umekita, who was hired in April, was the winner of the 2014 Judo World Youth Championship.