Japan has very strict drug laws. There is no drug classification, no hard and soft. Possession of cannabis carries the same penalties as possession of heroin. One of the things we are constantly warned about at every opportunity is the danger of getting caught with drugs in Japan.
Three weeks ago, an English teacher in Gunma prefecture got caught with some marijuana in his possession. In the UK or America, this would likely result in a verbal warning and a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately for this guy, he has been in jail ever since, waiting for trail.
As far as I can tell, there is little drug education in Japan, and most people have the “All drugs are bad, mmmkay?” propaganda pumped into them from an early age. This is what makes the fashion of cannabis pencil tins amongst my 11-14 year old students all the more amusing.
I doubt they really know what it is they are advocating the use of, with slogans such as “Get arrested on a Marijuana Possession Charge!”, yet I’m grateful for this trend. It always brightens up my day to see an 11 year old girl with “Reggae Monkey, Bogart the joint!” on her pencil tin. Considering the Japan’s strict attitude to cannabis, I think this is akin to an 11 year old student in England having a “Shoot Heroin into your Veins!” or “Smoke a Crack Bong: It’s Cool!” splashed across his stationary.