Japan Made a Record Number of Cannabis Arrests in 2019, with Over 4,300 Charged

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Japanese police officers made a record number of cannabis arrests in 2019, with more than 4,300 people charged with marijuana offenses. This is the country’s sixth consecutive year with a spike in pot interdictions.

According to a new report from the Japan Times, the 4,321 cannabis arrests in 2019 represented a 17% increase from the previous year, suggesting either a significant spike in marijuana use, marijuana policing, or both.


Japan has long regarded cannabis as a dangerous, illicit narcotic. And even as marijuana reform laws spread rapidly across the US, Europe, Africa, and South America, Japanese officials have held strong to prohibition. Recently, the nation even reminded Olympic hopefuls and fans that local cops would be on high alert for pot when Tokyo hosts the summer games (which have since been postponed, due to coronavirus).

Broken down by age group, Japan’s 2019 cannabis arrest stats included 609 teenagers and nearly 2,000 20-somethings. The remaining arrests were mostly concentrated among the middle aged, with 0.4% of all arrests targeting adults 50 years or older.

Outside of cannabis, total drug arrests in Japan dropped in 2019, compared to the previous year. And while pot arrests did increase, stops for the country’s most popular illegal drug, methamphetamine, saw a nearly 15 percent year-over-year drop — from 9,868 in 2018 to 8,584 in 2019.

So if you’re planning to eventually end your quarantine with a trip overseas, just make sure your international destination is cannabis friendly — and maybe avoid Japan altogether if you’re looking for a vacation destination where you can light up freely.

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