Japan saw a record 5,482 people involved in cannabis-related criminal cases last year, an increase of 448 the previous year, with 70% of offenders in their 20s or younger, Kyodo News reports. Overall, 5.6 individuals per 100,000 people were involved in cannabis-related offenses in 2021, which is nearly double the 3.0 rate in 2017.
Among all of the cases, 4,537 were for possession, 273 were for distribution, and 230 were for cultivation, the report says. In all, police confiscated about 726.9 pounds of cannabis in Japan in 2021.
Among the offenders, 186 were high school students, eight were in junior high school, with the youngest offenders aged 14; 2,823 individuals involved in cannabis offenses were in their 20s and 994 were under 20-years-old, according to National Police Agency data outlined by Kyodo News.
By age group, 14.9 per 100,000 people under 20-years-old were involved in cannabis cases, up from 4.1 in 2017, while 23.6 per 100,000 people in their 20s were involved, up from 9.4, according to police data.
In a survey of 829 drug offenders by the National Police Agency, more than 70% said they did not believe cannabis is harmful, the report says.
The number of all drug offenders in Japan did fall overall last year to 13,862 – a decrease of 217. The majority of cases last year, 7,824, were for “stimulant drugs,” such as amphetamine or methamphetamine, which is a decrease of 647 from the year prior.
Japan’s Cannabis Control Act criminalizes the import, export, or cultivation of cannabis and simple possession carries a sentence of up to five years, according to the law firm Ohara & Furukawa. Possession with the intent to profit is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or up to a 2,000,000 yen fine. Growing, importing, or exporting cannabis in Japan can be punished with up to seven years in prison, and engaging in any of those acts with the intent to profit carries a punishment of up to 10 years imprisonment.
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