Japan cannabis cases jumped to record last year

Suspects for cannabis-related offenses rose to a record in Japan last year, with people in their teens and 20s accounting for more than 70 percent of cases.

The National Police Agency said 6,482 people were suspected of possessing or growing cannabis in 2023. The figure marked the highest since police began keeping such data in 1958. The previous record was 5,482 cases set in 2021.

People in their 20s accounted for 3,545 of the cases, followed by teenagers with 1,222.

Among the teenagers identified as suspects, 21 were junior high school students and 214 senior high school students. The youngest was 14 years old.

Researchers say compounds in cannabis may cause mental disorders and affect cognitive functions.

Last year, the police agency interviewed more than 1,000 people identified on suspicion of possessing marijuana about the drug's effects.

A total of 76 percent responded that the substance is not harmful at all or not so harmful.

Agency officials say cannabis is spreading widely, partly because of misinformation such as claims that marijuana is safe. They also note that the substance is becoming more accessible through drug trafficking groups on social media.