TOKYO (TR) – The National Police Agency said earlier this month that a record number of persons were apprehended nationwide over involvement in marijuana-related crimes last year, reports NHK (Apr. 2).
According to the NPA, law enforcement divisions in Japan apprehended a record 4,321 persons for violating the Cannabis Control Law. The total is up by 743 over 2019.
The NPA also said that 609 of those persons were under the age of 20, a figure that represents an increase of 180 over the year before. The number is the highest since such statistics started being kept in 1959.
The number of high school students was 109 (an increase of 35 over 2019), which is the highest since that statistic statistic began in 1972. Middle school students accounted for six apprehensions, a decrease by one.
6,000 yen per gram
A senior NPA official said that marijuana (which fetches about 6,000 yen per gram) is attractive to young people since it is less expensive than other drugs. Stimulant drugs, for example, are priced around 64,000 yen per gram.
Marijuana is also marketed easily via social media. “There is an environment where it is easily accessible to young people,” the official said, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Trafficking is also on the rise. The amount of marijuana seized in 2019 was more than 350 kilograms, an increase by more than 100 percent over five years before.
Arrests of persons for the cultivation of marijuana last year stood at 164, an increase of 12 over 2018. Meanwhile, the number of smugglers was 80 (a rise of 17).
“Marijuana is addictive”
Of those apprehended for marijuana-related crimes, 631 participated in a survey. About 80 percent of them said that dealing with marijuana held no risk. Their reasoning was often that there are other countries in the world where marijuana is mostly legal.
“Awareness of the dangers of cannabis has declined,” the agency said, according to Jiji Press (Apr. 2). Marijuana is addictive and the serious effects it can have on the brain need to be properly communicated.”