Japan Data

Percentage of Young Cannabis Offenders Reaches New High in Japan


While the overall number of drug offenders is decreasing, the percentage of cannabis offenders under 30 reached its highest level in 2022.

Statistics compiled by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare show that the number of cannabis-related offenders detained in 2022 by the police, the ministry’s Drug Enforcement Agency, or the Coast Guard was 5,546, a 4.1% year-on-year decrease. Although lower than the record reached in 2021, the number remains quite high. Among the cases, 69.2% involved persons under 30 years old, which is the highest percentage to date, raising concerns about the increase in drug abuse among younger people.

Number of People Detained for Cannabis-Related Offenses

In recent years, the number of drug offenders detained overall had remained flat, but in 2022 it decreased by 1,787, or 12.4%, to 12,621. Cases involving stimulants have decreased significantly over the past decades, whereas cannabis-related offenses have been on the rise. Factors behind the increase include the fact cannabis can be cultivated by individuals and is less expensive than stimulants, as well as the influence of social media among young people.

Number of People Detained for Drug-Related Offenses in Japan

The National Police Agency conducted a survey and analysis of 911 persons arrested for violation of the Cannabis Control Act (simple possession) in October and November 2021. The results show that that 52.1% of the arrestees were under 20 years of age when they first used cannabis and 33.0% were in their twenties, for a total of 85.1% who were under 30 years old at their first experience.

Most of those surveyed used cannabis for the first time after being offered it by someone else. This was the case for around 80% of those under 20 and 70% of those in their twenties. The Internet was the source for finding out how to obtain cannabis for 42.8% of those under 20 and 34.1% of those in their twenties. In nearly every case, this involved the use of social media.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Dried cannabis seized by the National Police Agency in March 1999. © Pixta.)

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