Drug Law in Japan
v1.0 May 2006
The following are collected notes about drug laws and are not intended to be definitive.
- Description of the Japanese Drug Abuse Prevention Center Site & General Comments
The full texts of all the drug control laws appear to be available on the DAPC site, but only in the Japanese section. They DAPC also has info on the history of each drug in the country and how to recognize abuse.
Stimulant abuse in Japan is the biggest problem, with its roots in the factories producing during WWII. (see: The problem of the abuse of amphetamines in Japan, UNODC). Workers were given stimulants, including methamphetamines, to increase production and decrease exhaustion from overwork. After the war, the surplus flooded the private market and created an abuse problem, leading to subsequent laws reuglating it and prohibiting it. Statistics on stimulant arrests appear at www.dapc.or.jp/data/kaku/6.htm. The first chart is just how many arrests and how much material seized. The second chart is to show how many minors were charged, broken down by total/minors/percent of total = minors/Jr High students/High school students. The third/final chart is a breakdown of cases by type (e.g. possession, sales, importation, delivery to minors, etc.).
As for psychotropics and cannabis, I believe they only came under regulation during US occupation because of the US drug policy, and their pressure on the Japanese government to comply with their laws. Today, mere possession of most illegal drugs (including small amounts of cannabis) can get you life in prison. The DAPC section on the cannabis abuse seems to come straight out of 'reefer madness', listing "marijuana psychosis" and tendency to commit serious crimes as a result of continued use. They also suggest that one can get flashbacks throughout one's life, even after quitting. Arrest/seizure statistics under the cannabis law appear at www.dapc.or.jp/data/taima/5.htm. In 2003: 3,125 cases, 2,312 arrests, 642.6 kg dried matter seized, 327.5 kg of resin seized. These are the highest levels ever, according to the site.
Even though stimulants are more often linked to crimes, and are more often abused in Japan, they still make cannabis out to be the culprit of everything. Even though they still eat the seeds, and grow hemp for cloth. There are several hemp shops/cafes in Japan. I had some interesting hemp tofu at one (didn't hold together very well, though), but the hemp tea tasted like bongwater!
Under Cocaine, they list many various 'narcotics' including Heroin and MDMA. The data of arrests broken down by substance is here: www.dapc.or.jp/data/coca/7.htm. This data shows that although cocaine/heroin/synthetics use has decreased a little, MDMA has skyrocketed. However, I have heard on the street that most MDMA pills circulating are not real. So I don't know how carefully they test confiscated pills.
Paint thinner abuse is actually a huge problem with youth here, meriting its own regulation and prevention laws.
Here is info on the recent addition of psilocybin-containing mushrooms to the psychotropic drugs prohibition: www.dapc.or.jp/data/other/9.htm. On Jun 6 2002 they finally closed the loophole that had left 'magic mushrooms' legal in Japan. However, they are still available on the street, and head shops that used to carry them publicly still sell them in private, as well as carrying other recreational fungi and 'legal' substances such as peyote and new reseach chemicals.
-- adania, Apr 2006