The number of teens in Japan implicated in cases involving marijuana increased by more than five-fold between 2013 and 2017, the National Police Agency said, raising concern that the use of the drug is spreading among juveniles.
A total of 297 people aged between 14 and 19 were subject to police action in marijuana-related cases in 2017, up 87 from a year earlier, according to NPA data. Those under 14 cannot be held criminally liable for their actions under Japan’s juvenile law.
“Nowadays (marijuana) can be obtained easily online and it is possible that (juveniles) are abusing it just to satisfy their curiosity,” an agency official said.
Of the 297 implicated, 155 are in paid work, followed by the unemployed at 67 and high school students at 53, all rising by three to five times compared to 2013. Two were junior high school students, while 10 were university students.
In regards to crime, generally, the number of juveniles subject to police action in 2017 fell 4,719 from a year earlier to 26,797, the lowest since 1945, the end of World War II.
The number of juveniles subject to police law enforcement action per 1,000 people of the same age bracket also fell to a record-low 3.8, reflecting a drop in theft cases.
But more teens were caught in money transfer fraud cases which often involve phone scams, with the figure climbing by 126 from a year earlier to 478. More than 70 percent of the juveniles involved collected cash at their victims’ homes.
Police took action on or brought into custody juveniles in 155 cases related to bullying, most of which involved injury or assault. The number of youths implicated in those cases stood at 245, down 22 from a year earlier.