Tokyo, Aug. 21 (Jiji Press)–Of minors dealt with by Tokyo police last year on suspicion of violating the cannabis control law, 37 pct believed that cannabis is not harmful, a survey by the Metropolitan Police Department showed Saturday.
About 40 pct of the minors acquired cannabis through social media, according to the survey.
With the number of people handled by the MPD last year for alleged violations of the law soaring more than 13-fold from 2012, the department plans to reflect the survey results in its efforts to discourage cannabis possession and use by youngsters, officials said.
The MPD conducted the survey this spring on investigators who interrogated 108 people aged 15 to 19 who were dealt with by the police last year on suspicion of violating the law.
According to the MPD, 100 of them, or 92.6 pct, said cannabis is illegal in Japan. But 23 minors, or 21.3 pct, said cannabis is not so harmful, while 17 people, or 15,7 pct, said cannabis is not harmful at all.
As reasons, some said cannabis has been legalized in some countries and others said cannabis has a weak potential for addiction.
The survey also showed that 54 people, or 50 pct, used cannabis out of mere curiosity and that at least some 40 pct acquired cannabis through social media.
Two 18-year-old male university students bought cannabis from a supplier in a park in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, after making a search on social media by using jargons indicating transactions, according to the survey.
A senior official of the MPD said social media has made it easier to obtain cannabis at lower prices.
In 2012, the MPD took action on eight minors on suspicion of violating the cannabis control law. The annual number continued to rise through 2020, with 88 minors handled by the police in January-June this year, up 66 pct from a year before.
Another senior MPD official said there is an impression that cannabis possession and use is more widespread than indicated by the statistical numbers, adding that violations may increase further.