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Japan: More teenagers are using cannabis, but offenses and arrests are down



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Japan's National Police Agency revealed that the number of Japanese teenagers using cannabis has steadily increased in recent years. However, statistics compiled in 2022 by the country's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showed that the number of cannabis-related offenses and arrests made by the police, the ministry's Anti-Drug Agency and the Coast Guard was 5.546, an annual decrease of 4,1% compared to 2021. Around 69,2% of cases involved people under 30 years old, the highest percentage to date, which, according to the newspaper raises “concerns about the increase in drug use among younger people”.

The Japanese newspaper reported that the National Police Agency conducted a survey and analysis of 911 people arrested for violating the Cannabis Control Law (for simple possession) in October and November 2021. The results revealed that 52,1% of those arrested had less than 20 years of age when they first consumed cannabis and 33,0% were just over twenty years old, for a total of 85,1% under 30 years of age at the first experience.

Also the police authorities and Japanese experts, cited by The Japan Times, stated that the increase is due “apparently because the illegal substance has a lower price than stimulants and the number of countries that have legalized cannabis has increased”, in addition to being possible to grow it at home.

Most of those interviewed by authorities confessed to having used cannabis for the first time after being offered it by someone else. This was the case for about 80% of people under 20 and 70% of people in their early twenties. The Internet was the source for finding out how to obtain cannabis for 42,8% of people under 20 and 34,1% of people in their twenties to 30s. In almost all cases, purchasing cannabis involved the use of social media.

Cannabis laws in Japan
In Japan, possessing cannabis can result in up to seven years in prison, but non-THC cannabinoids (such as CBD) and some synthetics are allowed.

Japanese lawmakers are preparing to debate the regulation of medicinal cannabis in the country and the discussion could even begin in the coming weeks. However, although there is some hope for cannabis advocates that there will be greater acceptance of the plant for medicinal purposes, it is very unlikely that Japan will ever allow legalization of recreational use.

On the other hand, and according to the magazine Time, Japan has a long tradition of growing industrial hemp, which is used in fiber production, clothing or cooking oil, as well as religious practices. However, some of these Japanese traditions came under scrutiny after World War II, when the United States occupation forces insisted on banning cannabis in Japan. Following this, the Cannabis Control Act of 1948 was adopted, which banned most part of the hemp plant, but not its stems and seeds, as they do not contain psychoactive chemicals.

Current Japanese law criminalizes the import, export, production, sale, possession and research of cannabis, but is silent on consumption — the use of cannabis is therefore not considered a crime.

Conference on CBD and Hemp takes place in Tokyo on November 2nd and 3rd
A CBD Journey & CannaCon 2023, the largest CBD and Hemp exhibition and conference in Japan, will take place at Shibuya Stream Hall, in Tokyo, on the 2nd and 3rd of November 2023. According to the event organizers, “with the legal reform imminent in Japan and the importance of GX (Green Transformation), the CBD and hemp industry is expected to develop further and we aim to create a place where people can enjoy and deepen their knowledge and exchange in the area of ​​CBD/ Hemp".


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