Around the world there seems to be an increasingly lenient attitude towards pot smoking, with many governments having legalized the substance altogether. Japan, however, hasn’t moved an inch when it comes to marijuana and is showing no signs of doing so in the future either.
Take the recent arrests of a 32-year-old Kanagawa man and 37-year-old Tokyo woman for example. They reportedly admitted to charges of violating the Act Concerning Special Provisions for the Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act and Other Matters for the Prevention of Activities Encouraging Illicit Conducts and Other Activities Involving Controlled Substances through International Cooperation.
It would seem that this pair ran afoul of the “Encouraging Illicit Conducts” part of the lengthy title in that they repeatedly posted messages such as “Smoking for the first time in a while rocks” and “Weed sure is the best” on social media chats that were made viewable to about 80 people.
▼ News report about the arrests with some samples of their posts
However, it wasn’t just off-the-cuff praise like, “Weed is great, but anyway what’s up with you?” Between the two of them, an onslaught of 800 pro-weed messages were reported to police which suspiciously appears to be trying to lure people into a sales situation at worst, and at best is just plain annoying.
Still, for most people, raving about smoking pot is a very unexpected reason to get arrested in Japan, and most comments expressed their surprise.
“I didn’t know you could get arrested for that. I noticed some Twitter accounts like this usually have disclaimers like ‘this is a work of fiction’ or something.”
“It doesn’t even matter if they actually smoked? Did they actually smoke?”
“I usually hear about people getting arrested for violating drug laws, but for violating the special laws is rare.”
“I understand the damage reduction effect of arresting dealers, but this seems like thought-policing.”
“800 times?! Lol”
“How does the penalty for violating the special law compare to the regular law?”
According to Article 9 of that law whose name I shall not repeat: “A person who publicly agitates or incites committing a drug crime…or abuse of a regulated drug is subject to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.”
In comparison, the regular Narcotics and Psychotropics Control Act says that possessing marijuana can get you up to seven years behind bars, and one to ten years if the offender is planning to profit off it. So as you might expect, actual marijuana possession is indeed much stricter, but the punishments for hyping up smoking are no joke either.
This also raises questions about people like actor-turned-activist Saya Takagi, who has run for parliament with the platform of legalizing medical marijuana. As a very well-known advocate for the drug, isn’t she also violating the same law?
However, as one comment pointed out, this law appears to only be enforced on rare occasions. What makes this particular occasion so rare isn’t clear though, which leaves a haze of ambiguity over what types of “incitements” would lead to an arrest.
One thing is for sure, Japanese law is as hardline about marijuana as ever.
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