Seizures of cannabis extracts skyrocketed in Japan over the past year
If the official numbers of drugs seized by the authorities are to be believed, Japan was stoned to death during the pandemic. The Japan Times reports that the amount of “liquid cannabis” (which we interpret as cannabis extracts and oils – like tinctures – rather than weed beverages) seized by Tokyo customs skyrocketed, 70 times higher, in 2020 was than in 2019.
In the first half of 2020, officials seized nine kilograms of cannabis in liquid form. 18 kilograms in the second half. Compare that to just 400 grams for all of 2019.
Although the use of the cannabis plant as a textile and medicine has been documented in the country since the Neolithic, Japan banned the substance in 1948 and is now known for its extremely strict cannabis laws.
Just possession of marijuana could land someone in jail for up to five years – the same sentence, as Vice News points out, as facilitating child trafficking.
The dramatic increase in extracts seized could suggest that Japanese consumers are getting smarter when it comes to moving around less detectable forms of cannabis. Although many people are caught with weeds, small bottles are much easier to camouflage and tend to develop less odor than bags of whole flowers.
Anyway, the law says it is apparently the younger generation who do these wild weed movements.
“Many of the users are teenagers,” said an unidentified officer from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. “My impression is that it has been used more extensively in the past 10 years or so.” The official added that with the numbers increasing, the agency would “step up our actions”.
Although young people may indulge in higher rates, cannabis use is still a long way from being accepted in the country.
For example, a 44-year-old actor named Yusuke Iseya was given a one-year suspended sentence after 13 grams of cannabis were found in his home by police. At his December trial, Iseya (who played a police academy instructor in last year’s Detective Novice film) said he had smoked weed for almost 15 years.
“I thought that alcohol was not suitable because it would affect me the next day and I had to take care of my body,” Iseya told the court when he was charged. “I chose marijuana because it had less of an impact.”
Such a punitive approach to the drug does not appear to be in line with the government’s financial stocks. Bloomberg reports that the Japanese government announced last summer that its Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) holds approximately $ 80 million worth of shares in at least three cannabis companies. (Granted, these canna funds make up about 0.005 percent of the total amount of GPIF.) These holdings include a $ 50 million stake in Canada’s Canopy Growth, $ 17 million in Toronto’s Cronos Group, and $ 17 million in equity Aurora Cannabis Inc. Not a shocker.
When Japanese government officials were contacted by Bloomberg in March, they refused to confirm whether the holdings were active. “Our sole aim is to secure long-term returns for our members,” said fund spokesman Nao Honda.
“It’s a complete contradiction,” Osaka criminal defense attorney Michiko Kameishi told Bloomberg. “People’s lives will be ruined for it.”