Marijuana “epidemic” shows Japan’s drug allergy

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) – First a sumo wrestler, then an actor, now students at elite universities and a tennis player — the list of people caught using marijuana has sparked fears of reefer madness in Japan.

More than 2,000 people were arrested on dope charges between January and October this year, a 19 percent increase on the same period last year, according to the National Police Agency.

“(The) increase in marijuana abusers, as well as tightening regulations, are both factors that pushed up the number of arrests,” Shingo Katsuno, vice president and an expert on Japan’s drug issues at Hyogo University of Teacher Education, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Japan is now highly interested in the issue because it is spreading in places like colleges, where it hardly existed before,” he added.

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