On July 17th, 2011, a prominent doctor from Kyoto University Hospital was arrested in the Tokushima prefecture, for allegedly possessing 0.15g of cannabis during a police confrontation – the doctor went up a one way street and was questioned and searched, and they found a total of 0.15g(!) of cannabis from his dashboard and pocket.
How much is 0.15g of cannabis? Is it even enough to roll a joint? Perhaps a pinner, or maybe one good bong hit – but that’s about it. Apparently, the doctor was partying on his way to Tokushima on family vacation. The sad truth is that now he faces up to five years of Japanese prison, which is known as severely disciplined and extremely strict. Naturally he has lost his job – and even more. His name being all over the newspapers and TV, his family was disgraced as well, and one could only imagine the hardships he faces ahead.
The Japanese media went ape shit over this incident. They completely freaked out. It was just like watching ‘Reefer Madness’, but this was reality. The media criticized the doctor for being a doctor and a cannabis user at the same time. They claimed it was unethical for a doctor to use cannabis. In Japan, it is considered by the courts that it is ‘common public knowledge’ that cannabis is a dangerous drug that needs to be strictly regulated, regardless of the rich history between the Japanese and cannabis. Perhaps one of the oldest evidence of cannabis cultivation in the world dates back to the Jomon period of Japan, where over 10000 year old clay pots were discovered containing cannabis seeds. These seeds were used for food, medicine, etc., and the hemp was used for clothing and making rope, and again, medicine. It is also self evident that cannabis was used in animistic and shamanistic rituals throughout Japanese history.
Perhaps Japan and Korea are the two main modern countries that persecute small time pot-users. However, this does not justify ruining someone’s life, especially over a pathetic 0.15g bust.
On the 18th, the Japanese police raided the doctor’s office located in Kyoto University and his private home. They found nothing else – but the damage was done. Just about all media receives information from the police, and then they publish it, broadcast it or whatever, but no media is even sympathetic to this doctor. It is clearly mob mentality, lynching this poor doctor with harsh words as if he had just killed somebody.
In any other modern country, this won’t even make the news, would it? This is the reality of the Japanese media towards pot use. They even compare notes after the police conferences to make sure they all have similar articles. It is strictly taboo to even discuss cannabis unless it is in a negative context. Perhaps the saddest part about this is that these media guys know for sure about the positive properties of marijuana. Some are pot-smokers themselves. Many have travelled abroad, enough to know that marijuana is harmless. There is just no mood to talk openly about cannabis use in Japan. Not even medical marijuana.
On the other hand, the Japanese seem to welcome this new trend of pot-smoking. The numbers are increasing dramatically. About 3000 persons are arrested every year for possession and cultivating charges. However, the consequences of doing so may seem to be harsher than ever. It is about time to decriminalize or re-catagorize cannabis as a less dangerous drug. Alcohol and amphetamines are the true problems in the Japanese drug scene, not marijuana.
As for the doctor, we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.