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What do you make of all the publicity over the recent arrests of Japanese university students for smoking pot?

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Wouldn't be surprised if it is because students and young ones alike think pot is "cool" due to media influence,

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There is more publicity because drug cases seem to be more prevalent now. If more media coverage helps to stamp out dope taking, then I'm for it.

By the way, a number of readers on other threads have said that a little marijuana is harmless. I disagree. Putting any narcotic into your body without a medical prescription is unwise and stupid, I might add. I've even heard people who snorted cocaine say a little cocaine is harmless. I bet heroin addicts would say the same thing. No, if we wish to stamp out the scourge of drugs, then all drug use has to be outlawed -- even the so-called "recreational" or harmless ones.

Anyway, for all you idiots out there who toke up, whatever high you can get from drugs, you can get even higher from just watching a beautiful sunset or the other beauties of nature.

Sorry for the rant.

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There's very little media hype about all the legally licensed businesses that sell alcohol and tobacco, and yet alcohol is a much more mind bending substance and tobacco is extremely physically addictive. Both cause serious harm to the body and the social harm caused by alcohol is massive. Pot is a relatively harmless drug in comparison, though I think there should be some sort of warning when it comes to strains like Northern Lights. By the way, watching a sunset is a wonderful experience, but there are many sunsets. It wouldn't be a waste of a good sunset to watch it under the influence of a mind altering substance every now and then. Being open to experience is a vital part of human nature.

Moderator: Readers, please do not try and turn the discussion into a debate on alcohol and tobacco. That is a different discussion.

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Tip of the iceberg. If the police keep going with it, the true extent of it will be shown. Or they might choose to ignore it to save themselves some trouble. Personally I'm against "recreational" drugs even though I don't think they are overly dangerous.

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Putting any narcotic into your body without a medical prescription is unwise and stupid

Yeah, but weed ain't a narcotic, Brainiac.

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keystones shud be doing their jobs but arresting possibly jailing people for microscopic amounts is just daft, making a mountain out of a mole hill I say, and hate smoking anything

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Two really quick comments:

Firstly, given the Japanese media tradition of everybody being involved in "Press Clubs" that are basically spoon-fed information by Government Ministries and Agencies (including the National Police Agency and the Prefectural Police Forces), you have to realize that the "crack down" on pot is be pushed by the police as "this month's hot topic" and the media are just going along for the ride. Sooner or late, however, the attention of the police will shift to another hot topic and the media will loose interest in the pot subject.

Secondly, "pot" is something that I am against in principle (I don't smoke or drink alcohol/coffee either). If you strip all the glamor away from weed (or alcohol/coffee/tobacco, etc), what you end up with is drugs that can impair your health. There is also the issue of "pot" being illegal. Perhaps I am just an old hard *rse, but I tend to take a pretty poor view of people who knowlingly engage in illegal behavior. With regard to "pot," I suppose medicinal usage (glaucoma, etc) is acceptable, however, until such time as it is legalized, I think those who toke up should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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Disappointed that Japan's young people are smoking something other than Altria cigarettes.

We urge the NPA to crack down on this illegal activity.

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If they wana break the law and ruin their lives, its their choice.

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Oh my God!!! College student's are smoking grass!!!! Unthinkable!!! If the Japanese government thought they could get away with it, and turn a profit, there would be a reefer vending machine on every corner.

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Uni students smoking pot are pretty easy targets for the cops to gain some notoriety as "uhum" professionals. If they were serious about the pot problem and drugs in general they would get off their butts and start breaking up some of these gangs that are supplying the drugs. The Uni students are stupid little kids that will light up a joint in a car in the car park of a 7/11 and then dobb in the person they got it from without a blink of an eye. Is this police work? C'mon! Publicity is all it is!

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For pity sake. If every person in my college class who smoked weed had been arrested, there would have been no one at graduation. A typical Japanese exercise to demonstrate action, but, in reality, turning a blind eye to the real problems of this society.

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What do you make of all the publicity over the recent arrests of Japanese university students for smoking pot? Not much!, The whole issue is lame and was lame 30 years ago in the United States. Marijuana has been around since time immorial and will always be out there. If more folks in Japan smoked pot after work, they would be a lot happier and less stressed out.

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I think it is about time that the Japanese finally are busted instead of just gaijin. Tip of the iceburg. Pot is all over the place. A quick walk in any trendy neighbourhood of Osaka and Tokyo will tell you via the smell coming out of places.

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College kids smoke pot, OH MY what is the world coming too? This is a complete waste of tax payer moeny and government resources. This stuff needs to be legalized and taxed, take away the crime element of this substance, apply government conrols and put money into the hands of legitamate business men...this needs to happen not only in Japan but the US as well

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The media coverage is overkill for such a trivial topic. To be one of the top stories on the evening news is a joke. Why is it so shocking? I don't understand. Its illegal.... fine so book them and get on with life. The media publicity is not only overdone but usually bias by focusing on the "foreign" source of the drug.

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Lest we forget, marijuana wasn't illegal until 1945 (or shortly thereafter) when the US of A insisted Japan make it illegal. Before 1945 or so it was legal for about, oh, 7000 years. As for the students, the first few thousand might be jailed or get suspended sentences but eventually the police will either go after the wholesalers (yakuza) - not bloody likely; or give up (more likely) and let people have their weed while the police go after corruption, bribery, and financial crimes (also not likely.)

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complete utter rubbish! japanese needs to get on with the program. they waste too much money on useless cops who don't do nothing and go after drug users!!! no other country does this!!! I've been saying this for years: Japan needs some high quality crime to establish high quality police force. Bring on guns and ammo!!

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Can you say "Reefer Madness"?

What is this, the 50's? Talk about hysteria.

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timorborder,

Interesing. I, like you tend to take a dim view of both drug use and breaking the law (I don't smoke, though I do drink socially - though I did not start till well out of college.) I generally feel that people engaging in frequent drug use (or drinking to get wasted) are kind of sad; that they must not be enjoying life and were looking or an escape. However, we seem to have come to a very different conclusion on the issue of marijuana.

You see, while I get why other drugs are terrible, I just can't understand the hysteria over pot use. I've never smoked pot so I don't have any stake it this, and I am uncomfortable with the idea of drug use, but I have yet to have anyone provide a plausable reason why using pot is wrong. Surely a law must have some reason for it to be valid?

The reasons usually provided by the gov't here in the US are danger to health, apathy, and its much hyped status as a "gateway drug". Basically, the establishment it saying that pot will ruin your life. (They also tried a sensationalist "pot funds terrorists/badguys" line for a while, but that was a bit too much for most people.) Well, I'm not seeing it.

Danger to health; sure, its a drug, it isn't good for you. But the same could be said about alcohol. Its also essentially and unfiltered cigarette, and breathing in smoke is never good for you. But, it isn't really addictive, and there don't seem to be much in the way of side effect. Sure, it impairs your judgement, so you could potentially do somehting lethal like crash your car, but then you could as well with alcohol. I see you don't drink, so maybe this argument won't resonate with you, but it doesn't seem fair to penalize the use of one and not the other. I don't beleive that pro-pot line that its completely safe and non-addictive (surely, all of us knows a burnt out pot-head who's wits and memory have departed him) but still, it seems almost safer than drinking some respects. Perhaps you feel that the government should step in and protect you from yourself, while I get that with drugs like crack and heroin (terribly addictive and destructive substances), I can't accept it in the case of pot. Perhaps its my libertarian leanings, but I don't feel the gov't has the right to force you to stop smoking (though I hate ciggarettes) or regualte the fat content in your diet. As to apathy, well, pot may drain you of ambition, but that too is not any of the gov'ts business.

The whole "gateway" drug nonsense is a scam. Oh yeah, they have studies and what not, but can you seriously tell me you believe that trying pot magically compels you to run out and snort coke or shoot up? Or, to put it more scientifically, correlation is not causation. Doesn't it make sense to you that the people who are willing to break the law to try pot are more likely to be willing to break the law to try coke? Here's what I think: If you decriminalize pot, then you will get more people smoking it, and a portion of those people will be "insprired" (if thats the word for it) to go and check out harder drugs, but most people won't because most people view weed from being in a different category from harder drugs, and will still balk at taking them. (My own aversion to grugs is an gut level moral reaction, not a feeling of "oooh. better not, might get in trouble." decriminalizing marijuana isn't going to change that.) Furthermore, a lot of highschool and college kids use pot, but grow out of it as they get older. All in all, the whole "gateway drug" concept is highly overblown, a scare tactic designed to terrify concerned parents.

As far as I can see, the greatest risk in using pot is the artificially manufactured one: that you could be arrested, convicted and tossed in jail. THATs the reall danger - that the government will come in, destroy your life, deprive you of liberty and then slap you with a criminal record that will make it difficult for you to get any sort of decent job. I find it very difficult to support a law designed to "protect" me, when the chief danger posed is from the law itself. Stop and think for a moment. Consider all the young people - highschool and college kids - that try pot every year, or use it recreationally. Thats a lot of kids. Do we really want to say "tough s***; law's the law" and throw the book at them? The consequences for getting caught with over a certain amount of weed are potentially devistating. Do we really want to ruin kids lives because we aren't comfortable, morally speaking, with the idea of using drugs?

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I generally feel that people engaging in frequent drug use (or drinking to get wasted) are kind of sad; that they must not be enjoying life and were looking or an escape.

It doesn't necessarily follow that quitting their habit will make them any happier, although it could well make them healthier, particularly in the case of alcohol and the harder drugs.

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I've never smoked pot so I don't have any stake it this, and I am uncomfortable with the idea of drug use, but I have yet to have anyone provide a plausable reason why using pot is wrong. Surely a law must have some reason for it to be valid?

It's wrong in the sense that it tends to make some people lazy. But if shiflessness were a crime, the prisons would be even fuller than they are.

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Justified.

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Like it or not, Japan generally follows American social movements with some delay. 'Sexual harassment' and 'no smoking section' were unheard of in Japan until they started catching on to moves America was making ten years earlier or so. America still has a long way to go in decriminalizing marijuana, but once a few more states go the way Massachusetts just did in the recent election (65% of voters in favor of making possession a civil matter with a simple fine and no arrest/criminal record) I think you'll see a change in Japan. At least they'll perhaps stop treating marijuana as if it's right up there with heroine as they do now. Also, the more tax-paying Japanese parents out there of otherwise good kids who get caught with gasp a whole gram of bud and have their lives ruined should give clout to a movement to discontinue treating simple possession cases as if they were Colombian drug lords or ax murderers.

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I can't believe some of the posters on here, one look at the "pot-heads" as triumvere puts it should be enough of a reason to have it be illegal, as for it being a gateway drug it's a commonly known fact that you build up a resistance to the effects of the drug, aka it takes more of the drug to get the same effect, thus when people try pot to begin with and it gets the point where no matter how much they smoke, a point where their most likely addicted to it, they can't get high then logically they'll go onto stronger stuff.

On a side note, I felt I should mention that just like you build up a resistance to drugs you can build up a resistance to diseases. . .

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Sounds like someone has formed pretty strong opinions on something despite a complete lack of experience with it. Kind of sounds like someone doesn't know what the hell he's talking about...

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Capt,

Who are you refering to?

I'm open to arguments on this, but the war on drugs guys have to do a better than "drugs are bad, mmmmkay." (I already beleive that, anyway.) I may have no personal experience with the drug, but I know a lot of people who smoked in HS/college and then grew out of it. Perfectly ordinary everyday people. And I have to wonder why these people should have been punished for their indiscretions.

Take that girl at Doshisha. She avoided prision, so thats pretty good. She was suspended for a term and, most critically, will get a record for this. Whats that going to do for her job prospects? Convicted of drug possession. I'm not feeling that the punishment fits the crime.

In MA, they just made a possession of a small amount of pot a civil offense. Get caught, get a $100 fine and lose your pot. This sort of system much much more resonalble; If society doesn't (for whatever reasons) want people using marijuana, then fine them and take it away. Bust the dealers (those in possession of large quantities), but don't ruin the live so college kids for making a realitively harmless mistake.

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that should read, "lives of" at the end there. sorry

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I was talking about that silverwind feller.

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Like Bill Hicks used to say, why don't we ever hear the good drug stories on the news? This media hysteria is neither surprising nor welcome.

Maybe a little balance on the issue could help.

I'm not sure whether to growl in frustration or laugh in pity at some of the opinions on this board and in the world. The logical statements from non-users I can at least respect (and comprehend), but some of the garbage coming from the horrendously uninformed non-smokers just boggles the mind.

I don't think experience with marijuana is a prerequisite for discussion, but a little perspective might be helpful.

Take my own story of how pot helped me.

When I was a young university student, I caught mono and my immune system set out at full tilt to take it out. Unfortunately, right after my diagnosis, I also got salmonella poisoning from a bad restaurant. Anyone who has had either mono or salmonella can attest to their being very not fun. To have both at the same time is hellish. I'd never been so sick in my life and hope to never be so again.

My ability to eat was annihilated. Now, when you are horribly sick and can't keep any food in your guts, your body starts to burn through its reserves (i.e. itself) to keep going. So I began to waste away.

Thankfully, being on college campus, I had access to pot. Smoking made it possible to eat again, and I made it through my illness (which put me into the hospital at one point) without starving to death.

Pot helped me. It can help people. And that perspective needs to be out there. The Japanese media (and most of the media in the world) are failing at the duty of all journalists: objective reporting.

Can pot be a negative influence on someone's life? Absolutely. Most anything can, from television to chocolate. But it can also be an amazingly positive influence on someone's life.

And when I see someone who can't string two logical sentences together write that using pot makes you stupid and dim-witted, all I can do is growl in frustration and laugh in pity.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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To open your eyes...I'm delighted you were helped through a very terrible condition with the help of an herb from mother earth. And probably there are others who need or can be helped by MJ as you say IN THEIR PRIVATE LIVES. But there is another side to it that you are not accepting or in understanding about. Why is MJ illegal? What are its downsides? 1) Smoke is smoke is smoke is smoke. Whoever smokes in public affects not only him/herself but those around them. If you don't believe in 2nd hand smoke then you'll pooh-pooh this reason (as probably all smokers do. They believe smoking ITSELF is not bad, so how can 2nd hand smoke really cause harm?) I'm here to tell you, my lungs burn when I have to sit or stand next to someone whos smoking, period. I'm off like a light. Recently walking through Shibuya there was definitely odors of MJ in the streets on 2-3 different blocks. It affected me. I'm sure it affected others. (MJ advocates giggling with delight). O.K. but to me, its like an allergy, I don't like even the smell of the stuff.

2) MJ induces a medical condition called hypoglycemia. It shoots your blood sugar level skyrockets for the initial high of 4-6 hours depending on the strength of the stuff. But "what comes up must come down", and as the high wares off, the blood sugar level starts to plummet. This is when "the munchies" kick in. The problem with the munchies is that one often desires sweet food, white sugar, another BIG YIN product, to make one feel a little better and take off the feeling or irritability with "coming down". Its a very physical relation. In open your eyes case, MJ positively stimulated his/her appetite, but in normal teenagers it can turn them into hogging down like a pig. I wonder if anyone will admit to it. Its not only MJ's fault that Americans are so obese, but I believe the drug culture in USA is one contributing factor to people having such poor ideas/sense of how to eat in moderation, and which whole foods to choose, rather than the convenience of junk foods. The point being, when you come down from MJ you need to eat something AND QUICK! And its usuallly, not very natural food thats chosen but junk food. I wonder if open your eyes is aware of this point?

Then if one doesn't smoke again, (just like tobacco, but as immediately addicting) one starts to feel like your "missing" something. That's when the user takes another toke, and the cycle becomes a habit.

I'll admit there is alot of seemingly psychological benefit to smoking MJ, like seeing things from a wider perspective, hearing music with different ears, and observing movies, writing, pursuing artistic activities with a lot more perception etc. If your lucky and you can control it to once a month, or 6-8 times a year, I'd say its no problem. But I've never heard of such a person. Its like the person who only smokes 3 cigarettes a day. Maybe for the first week or two of smoking. But that easily escalates to 10 and then a pack. And with MJ, if you smoke more than once a month, or once a week, your going to see noticeable declines in many of your "normal" vitality signs.

This is just my opinion. As are all of the above. But don't get fooled into thinking its all green an jolly. The Bigger the Front, the Bigger the Back, as Ohsawa of Macrobiotic teachings said in the 1960's. If only it were wonderful and good with no backside, but it isn't. That's why it should be banned. Especially in Japan, with all the already smoking public that we face. On the other hand, I'm all for making it O.K. to do in the privacy of your home, for those who care to pursue their freedom of right. But in public, I think it should at least draw a substantial fine (20,000 yen for first time offenders. 50,000 for 2nd, 100,000 for 3rd and then to the clinic for some kind of rehabilitation. That would create jobs for people too!

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I agree with many of your points, but I don’t necessarily think they’re relevant.

As the topic at hand is about media portrayal, my main point is that there needs to be reportage of positive aspects of marijuana. You are not wrong in saying there are detrimental aspects of marijuana, but the media focuses solely on detrimental aspects (many of them suspect in credibility) without portraying that other side. As you said, ‘the bigger the front, the bigger the back,’ so where is the other side in the media onslaught?

Referring more specifically to your statement, even your idea of ‘banned’ is more akin to what I would call regulated. You say that it should be fined for public use but ok for private consumption. Great. I think many pro-marijuana reform activists would be pleased with that scenario. The problem is that the current situation isn’t nearly that cheery. It’s NOT ok for private use or even medical use, and if you pursue it anyway, the police boots will be marching to your door. All because of a useful little ‘herb from mother earth.’

Again, you aren’t wrong when you say there are negative aspects of marijuana, but those have no relationship to its legal status. It is illegal because of racism, corporate interests, and military strategy. Not because it’s harmful to your lungs.

Yes, smoke is bad for you. I cannot argue that point. But that alone is not sufficient grounds for criminality. We are allowed to choose to permit some level of harm in our lives. Non-ergonomic keyboards are still legal, right? Sports cars made of plastic still cruise the roads. I breathe the dioxin-filled air of Tokyo on a daily basis, ne? I strain a muscle now and again on the Footsal court. And, yeah, maybe even drink alcohol or smoke some plant matter. And when that happens, it is with other smokers, so there won’t be any second-hand smoke to affect you.

And when the munchies come along, someone can whip up some snacks of fruit and nuts, because not everyone can eat (or wants) junk food. Healthy eating doesn’t come from not smoking pot, it comes from education and positive role models. And responsible drug use comes from education as well. OBJECTIVE education. That’s where responsible research and journalism comes in. This demonizing of marijuana must stop. As you said, there are two sides to it.

The media has plenty of negative stories about marijuana. Where is the good stuff?

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"Again, you aren’t wrong when you say there are negative aspects of marijuana, but those have no relationship to its legal status. It is illegal because of racism, corporate interests, and military strategy. Not because it’s harmful to your lungs."

Now that is a weird idea. How do you figure this?

Isn't the obvious reason for marijuana being banned the fact that society at large is horrified by the thought of drug use? I may not beleive in the "gateway drug" hype, but I'm sure a lot of people (including, I'm sure, those who make and enforce the laws) do; its hard to distinguish this particular drug from all the others when your gut is telling you that using is an immoral act (along with your gov't, your church, and everyone else...).

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Openyoureyes. Thanks for the level headed response. Well put. Concerning a balanced approach by the media etc., I'm afraid its a case of what then US President Richard Nixon said 40 years ago. "If you think __(people (media included) who live on this archepelago) are going to change, you must be smoking MJ". I laughed about his comment at the time, but now after many years of direct experience realize just how insightful his words were/are.

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CaptDingleheimer;

Japan generally follows American social movements with some delay.

...meaning Japan generally follows Canadian or European social movements with more than some delay.

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Isn't the obvious reason for marijuana being banned the fact that society at large is horrified by the thought of drug use? its hard to distinguish this particular drug from all the others when your gut is telling you that using is an immoral act

Triumvere, you’re right. It is hard to distinguish marijuana from harder drugs, and many people are terrified by the thought of drug use. Only 36% of people in America (which, like it or not, leads the way on world drug policy) favor legalization of marijuana.

But why? Mainly because of a widespread and well-funded (dis)information campaign that the U.S. government began in 1937, perpetrated by the suddenly jobless alcohol prohibition establishment. That group, combined with industrial interests - because hemp had the potential to radically alter our production landscape (meaning there were large textile fortunes at stake) - began an aggressive anti-marijuana campaign harnessing prevalent fears of Mexican immigrants to demonize the plant.

So there are the racist and corporate interests I spoke of. As for military strategy, in 1945 a country could not wage war without hemp. As much as MacArthur probably didn’t want his troops toking up, the prime motivation in criminalizing hemp in Japan (and by default marijuana) was a tactical one to prevent by default any future military campaigns by the country.

Why are these things not common knowledge as they should be? Because of the topic of this thread: there is a serious lack of responsible objective journalism and education regarding marijuana.

isthistheend, it is ironic that you mention Nixon, as he is precisely the president who halted marijuana reform in its tracks when it was finally gaining some legitimacy. The American Medical Association, at Nixon’s request, put their minds to the marijuana issue. Their findings? They could find no plausible reason for marijuana to be criminalized as a hard drug. Nixon’s response? He threw the report in the trash and appointed a drug czar. But… as he said… if I expect politicians to change, I must be smoking something. ;)

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Pot will continue to gain popularity in Japan especially among university students in the future and not because of any cool image portrayal, because of university students growing up and smelling the flowers. That is, they are discovering not only is it a relatively harmless drug when consumed in small to moderate amounts, it also has less side effects than alcohol, and makes one more relaxed in today's stressful world and of course does less social damage than alcohol and tobacco. You would all be surprised by the amount of Japanese aged in their 20s and 30s who consume pot these days.

The X and Y generations are basically catching up on the West's 60s and 70s university drug use and experimentaton. As Japan is behind the West in most social norms by 20 to 40 years (take smoking in cafes, the use of technology in education, making people wear seatbelts in back seats of cars, the number of women in top managerial posts or parliament among many other things) it is just Japanese society growing up.

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I'm hoping it is individualism and not just the trendy thing to do.

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A chicken in every smoking pot, smoking pot for every chicken. smkpt,smkpt everybuddie smkpt

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Inside every high person, there is a disappointed prude. All this publicity amounts to a PR campaign by the police to show "Hey look, we do more things than just chase foreigners on bikes." Next month it will be something different: smokers in nonsmoking, teeth sucking and spitting oyaji taking photos of girls' backsides, or flower bashing school boys.

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30061015,

Rock on, son. Skin up, pack a cone, have a toke, bong on, Japan :)

ptolemy,

too true.

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FineDiner:You would all be surprised by the amount of Japanese aged in their 20s and 30s who consume pot these days....

What's your estimate in numbers or percentage, and how do you come about your opinion?

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