El renombrado caso de Junnosuke Taguchi, un joven famoso acusado de la tenencia de 2 gramos de cannabis, pone de relieve el estigma que sufren las personas que consumen drogas. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

By The Economist

Until his dramatic mea culpa in June, Junnosuke Taguchi was just another pop star-turned-minor actor. Dressed in funereal black, Mr Taguchi prostrated himself in contrition before a scrum of reporters after his release on bail for drugs charges. A police raid on his apartment in Tokyo had uncovered rolling papers, a seed-grinder and 2.2 grams of marijuana (enough to roll a couple of joints).

While other countries legalise marijuana or instruct the police to turn a blind eye to casual use, Japan maintains strict prohibition. Possession is punishable by up to five years in prison—seven if the intent is to profit from distribution. Teams of detectives are dispatched to raid the homes of pot-smokers in remote rural areas. Every summer police comb the cooler northern countryside for wild cannabis, methodically pulling up millions of plants and incinerating them in bonfires.

Strict enforcement of the Cannabis Control Act leaves most young people with little exposure to the sort of drug-taking that is commonplace elsewhere, says an official with the justice ministry, and so narrows the “gateway” to harder substances. Hard drugs are indeed vanishingly rare: police reported only 14 heroin-related crimes last year. But the anti-cannabis regime is not purely punitive. Nearly half of offences go unprosecuted, and even those that are often end in suspended sentences. The emphasis, at least for young, first-time offenders, is on rehabilitation.

Read the full article here (restricted access).