Japan cannabis busts hit an all-time high in 2019, police say

There is a growing segment of the Japanese population that wants its weed

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If you live in Canada or one of 33 American states, you can start to take for granted the fact that cannabis products are readily and legally accessible. For most of the world, however, this is still not the case, which means anyone growing or consuming cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes is breaking the law.

Take Japan, where, under the Cannabis Control Law, according to the Japan Times, “importing or exporting marijuana [is] punishable by up to seven years in prison.”

“The punishment can reach up to 10 years—and possibly a maximum ¥3 million fine—for those proven to have engaged in those acts with the intent to profit,” the Times reported in 2018. “Possession, distribution or receipt of marijuana can mean up to five years prison, while those with a profit motive can get a maximum seven-year jail term and up to a ¥2 million fine.”

In spite of these potential ramifications, Japan’s National Police Agency reported today that 4,321 individuals were involved in cannabis cases in the country in 2019. This is an all-time high number, up 743 from the previous year, for the sixth consecutive year of increases.

The numbers of cases were up in all age groups, but especially among younger people. The agency reports that, of the 4,321 people, 609 were between ages 14 and 19, up about 42 percent from the previous year, and 1,950 were in their 20s, an increase of about 28 percent.

What these numbers indicate is that, legality be damned, there is a growing segment of the Japanese population that wants its weed. And someday that segment will be large enough and vocal enough for the country to reach its cannabis tipping point.

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