Marijuana use is technically legal in Japan, although possession is punishable by jail time
With its zero-tolerance cannabis laws, deep social prejudices against the drug, and attempts to toughen consumption rules, Japan is no paradise for cannabis smokers.
Japan's CBD industry was worth an estimated $59 million in 2019, up from $3 million in 2015, according to Tokyo-based research firm Visiongraph. But despite its burgeoning interest in the plant's health benefits, the country isn't softening on illegal use, with cannabis-related arrests breaking records every year.
But you wouldn't guess it, just watch Ai Takahashi and his friends dancing, having fun and lighting up a joint to the weed anthem "Young Wild & Free" in a crowded little club from Tokyo.
"When I was a kid, I was taught in school and everywhere else that marijuana was absolutely forbidden, and that's what I believed too," said declared Takahashi.
The 33-year-old dancer then became interested in CBD, which is legal in Japan if extracted from the seeds or fully mature stems of the plant, but not other parts like the leaves. When Ms Takahashi encouraged her mother, who was suffering from depression, to try CBD, it made a big difference, she says.
"Don't smoke outside"
This curious contrast led Norihiko Hayashi, who sells products containing cannabinoids like CBD and CBN in sleek black and silver packaging, to advise discretion. Hayashi thinks Japan may one day legalize medical marijuana.
A growing number of countries, from Canada to South Africa and, more recently, Thailand, are taking a more relaxed approach to weed. Only 1,4% of people say they have tried marijuana, compared to more than 40% in France and around half in the United States.
"The internet is flooded with false information saying that cannabis is not dangerous or not addictive," Masashi Yamane, an official with the AFP, told AFP. Ministry of Health.
This means that marijuana use is technically legal in Japan, although possession carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Japan's cannabis control law was introduced in 1948, during the post-war American occupation. So, "those draconian laws against a drug that was not really a problem remained in force", she explains to theAFP.
But the country is no exception in Asia, where harsh penalties for drug use are the norm, even though Thailand now allows users to possess and grow cannabis under complicated new guidelines that still prohibit recreational use. “Cannabis is still considered a product favored by outlaws”…