TOKYO -- The number of people arrested in Japan over incidents involving marijuana decreased slightly in 2022, for the first time in nine years, but remains relatively high, the National Police Agency NPA announced on March 23.
In 2022, 5,342 people were arrested, down 140 from the previous year, according to the NPA. Of those, 912, or 17.1%, were under the age of 20, a decrease of 82 from the year prior. Those in their 20 s represented 53.4% of the total, while 17.4% were in their 30s. There are fears that the use of the drug by young people is rising, as those under 30 accounted for 70% of the arrests. Among them, 160 were university students, 150 were in high school and 11 were in junior high school.
The first-time offenders numbered 4,054, about 75% of the total. Those arrested for possession of marijuana totaled 4,430, over 80%, while 251 were arrested for distributing, 225 for cultivating, 184 for receiving and 74 for smuggling the drug into the country.
According to the NPA's analysis of 911 suspects arrested for simple possession between October and November 2022, 52.1% started using marijuana before they turned 20, up from 36.4% in 2017. 59.6% took up the drug out of curiosity or amusement, while 18.4% used it in the mood of the moment. 79.5% of the respondents said they believe marijuana has no adverse effects.
Young people are easily able to obtain marijuana via social media contacts, according to the NPA. The agency will continue to educate the public about the drug's harms by removing social media posts selling the drug.