Today Japan has some of the strictest anti-cannabis laws in the world.
Punishment for possession is a maximum 5 years behind bars and illicit growers face 7-year sentences. Annually around 2000 people fall foul of these laws – their names splashed on the nightly news and their careers ruined forever. The same prohibition that dishes out these punishments also bans research into medical marijuana, forcing Japanese scientists overseas to conduct their studies.
For decades, these laws have stood unchallenged. But now increasing numbers of Japanese people are speaking out against prohibition – and at the heart of their campaign is an attempt to teach the public about Japan’s long-forgotten history of cannabis.