It was proven again this week that Japan is among the absolute worst places you can live if you’re a cannabis enthusiast, never mind a tourist, as the story of a father and son from Nara Prefecture has started to make the rounds.
According to the English language version of Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s major national newspapers, the whole thing started as a Sunday family dispute and ended up with two teenagers being arrested for violating Japan’s Cannabis Control Law. Japanese media have made sure to note one of the 16-year-olds went to private school and the other did not.
According to the newspaper, the public school kid decided to set up a small grow operation in his family’s house but from the sound of it, things never really got off the ground apart from a planter box and undescribed lighting equipment. He would eventually tell his family he was planning to grow the cannabis for profit. At that point, his father allegedly called the police on him after some kind of warning.
The private school kid would end up getting ratted out too. Between the two students, the cops would net less than 5 grams of weed and seeds. They told the police they had scored the cannabis from the internet via Twitter.
Nare Prefecture police are always on the hunt for cultivators. In 2018 they spent six months working on a tip that would eventually net them only 80 plants in the eventual raid.
The actual penalties the two could face are about as draconian. According to Article 24 of Japan’s cannabis control law, anyone who tries to import or grow pot in Japan is looking at a prison work detail of up to seven years. They also face a fine that’s the equivalent of more than $27,000 U.S. dollars.
Even for those with entrepreneurial goals, getting charged with the simple possession of cannabis that’s deemed to be for personal use, as in the courts realize they aren’t looking to make a buck with that pot, are looking at five years.
But what if they can prove you’re looking to sell that sack?
“A person who commits the crime in the preceding paragraph for profit is punished by imprisonment with work for no more than seven years, or, in light of the circumstances, may be punished by imprisonment with work for no more than seven years and a fine of no more than 2,000,000 yen,” the penal code reads.
So thanks to dad for choosing the criminal justice route as opposed to the parenting one, these kids are now looking at possible jail time until they are 23 since they admitted to collaborating on the effort.
The cannabis persecution for the Japanese doesn’t even stop when they leave home. This was again brought to the forefront when Canada legalized marijuana. By the Japanese standard, anyone found to be smoking in Canada, or anywhere else cannabis has been legalized for medical or recreational purposes, could face up to five years in jail. The penal code’s language specifically notes it doesn’t matter if it is medical marijuana. But if you are caught distributing manufactured medical marijuana products in a nonprofit manner you’re only looking at five years as opposed to the seven you would get for selling things the courts don’t find to be for therapeutic purposes.
Japan doesn’t just put high schoolers with troubled lives at home on blast, every time a celebrity is caught anywhere near pot it’s a big news story. This included last year when the former World Junior Judo Champion, who is now a police officer in Kyoto, was arrested when visiting family in Osaka. On the visit, the police searched his house in connection with a robbery at Kyoto’s police academy. During the search, police found dry flowers and a pipe.
The highest-profile cannabis case in the history of Japan remains Sir Paul McCartney. The former Beatle was arrested at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport while on tour with Wings. McCartney said they decided to bring a half pound because they knew they weren’t going to be able to find anything to smoke. That half pound ended up getting McCartney nine days in jail, which isn’t too bad since he was facing the seven-year sentence we mentioned.
TELL US, would you bring weed to Japan?