Tokyo, April 8 (Jiji Press)–A record 5,034 people were involved in cannabis cases dealt with by Japanese police in 2020, up by 713 from the previous year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.
The total hit a record high for the fourth consecutive year.
The number of such people surged among those in their 20s or younger, the NPA said, citing a lack of knowledge about the danger of cannabis as a cause of the surge. The agency is planning to strengthen related awareness-enhancing activities.
Of the total, 2,540 people were in their 20s, up by 590 from 2019. Those aged below 20 numbered 887, up by 278.
The number of university students rose by 87 to 219 and that of high school students grew by 50 to 159, both hitting record highs. Eight junior high school students were among the offenders.
The number of offenders in their 30s or older fell by 155.
The number of people handled by police over cannabis cultivation jumped by 68 to 232.
Of the 748 people dealt with by police over cannabis possession, 78.2 pct were unaware of the danger of cannabis, according to the NPA. The ratio increased by some 14 percentage points from an NPA survey in 2017.
Most offenders started to use cannabis when they were in their 20s or younger.
The largest group of offenders said they began consuming cannabis after being invited to do so, citing curiosity as a reason for accepting such an invitation.
The second-largest group noted that they started cannabis use so as to go with the atmosphere of the scene they were in.
The NPA said offenders obtained information that cannabis carries low risks mostly from friends or acquaintances.
Others said they got such information from the internet.
“Cannabis is an illegal drug that affects the brain,” an NPA official said, showing eagerness to conduct awareness-enhancing activities to allow potential offenders to recognize the danger properly and decline invitations to use cannabis.
According to the NPA, police took action against 8,471 people over stimulant cases, down by 113. The figure is on a declining trend.
The number of stimulant smuggling cases fell by 200 to 73, mainly because the number of cases in which offenders bring stimulants into Japan in bags carried on the plane dropped due to entry bans introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.