It also means that there is a whole lotta weed being grown up in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island - some 90% of all of Japan's crop, I believe.
Now, before you book your ticket to Japan and to Hokkaido, just know that possession of marijuana, as the signage above suggests, is controlled by the Cannabis Control Law of 1948.
I know someone who spent some time in prison for growing mary jane out in British Columbia, and even though he served it in Canada, it wasn't the best use of his time—and just figure it's worse out in Japan.
Besides... even though it seems as though wils of Hokkaido is just teeming with wild marijuana - it is - the fact remains that these marijuana plants don't have a high level of THC in them.
THC, in case you didn't know ya stoner, is the Tetrahydrocannabinol, or more precisely its main isomer (−)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol ( (6aR,10aR)-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the principal psychoactive constituent (or cannabinoid) of the cannabis plant.
Basically, the higher the THC, the stronger the high.
This stuff out in Hokkaido is weak, man. It ain't worth it. Or at least that's what people are saying about the Hokkaido THC.
I don't know who these people are, though.
Wild marijuana plants have been growing in Hokkaido for centuries, but rather than smoke it, the natives wisely chose to utilize the plant's fibers - these hemp plant fibers - to create textiles such as clothing, rope and even paper... and it was under the domain of the government.
Of course nowadays, the hemp industry is pretty much zilch in Japan but the plants are still there - no longer being controlled within government-owned farms, but rather growing wild as the seeds from those plants in the farms have taken root all over the island.
Now... we are taking about hemp plants in the millions - especially in the less-populated northern regions like the Okhokst Coast line.
Like most people, you have probably been reading this blog with either the voice of Cheech or Chong, or if you are more like me, with both of them, hommes.
A few months ago - September, 2014 - two dudes were arrested in Shari, Hokkaido, with eight plastic bags stuffed with the wild weed.
Uh... eight bags each, that they claimed was for their own personal use... which is the correct thing to say so that you aren't charged with trafficking.
Eight bags?! Sure... if this stuff really does have a low THC, then perhaps they can get away with it.
Then again... if this stuff is more hemp rather than actual dope, then what's the story, morning glory? Why do the police care?
Would anyone get high from smoking hemp? You'd have to smoke a lot of hemp to get a buzz... maybe eight bags full, which may be how the two gentlemen are going to plead out their case.
Also in September of this year, nine men were arrested in Shibetsu, Hokkkaido with possession of four kilograms of dried marijuana, which is a pretty damn small amount for possession of hemp... unless this stuff is the real deal... Shhhh, no one is supposed to realize that.
These low THC marijuana (aka hemp) plants were all the rage (no, not a real rage... you might take a different drug for that, according to a woman I knew) until the end of WWII... until that time they were being cultivated as a material and as a medicine.
But, after WWII, and the American's came in and occupied Japan, they brought about the Cannabis Control Act of 1948... which may or may not be one of those things that Japan Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) wants to have repealed along with the Constitution.
Anyhow... with the Act, Japan's hemp growing farms et al were shut down, not to mention any and all medicines that may have contained an extract of marijuana in them. Just recall that once upon a time, along, time ago in a galaxy far, far away Coca-Cola had small traces of cocaine in it. It really was the real thing (I've got a monkey on my foot!) and was probably why one would really ant to have a Coke and a smile.
Everything related to marijuana was officially off the Japanese shelf by 1951.
Japan patted itself on the back, saying it had averted a major drug problem...
Amphetamines were big between 1946-1955... strangely enough around the same time the US occupied Japan.
Heroin then became the fashionable drug of choice between 1955-1962.
But not marijuana. yes, Japan... you certainly avoided a major drug problem.
Then, like now, there are some Japanese and gaijin who probably like to smoke a smoke, but not the vast majority of the people. Japanese seem pretty blaise about the whole marijuana thing.
A government report from the 1960s in Japan states:
"Cannabis is controlled by the Cannabis Control Law of 1948. Cases of cannabis crime in Japan are generally of foreign origin and the situation is being closely watched. There has been an increase in cannabis offences lately and in the number of arrests of foreign sailors and soldiers on leave from the Vietnamese war fronts who import cannabis into Japan."
"We cannot find any abuse of LSD but in view of the unfortunate results of its use in some European countries and in the United States of America a strict watch is being kept.
In conclusion, we think we can state that the drugs problem is under control thanks to the strong line taken to eradicate addiction, loyally supported by public opinion, good treatment arrangements in rehabilitation centers and a great improvement in the standard of living of the Japanese people."
It's always the fault of the gaijin... though I would suspect that in this case the Japanese government was at least 95% correct. I just pulled that percentage out of my pipe.
Japan still has a low tolerance to any one not in the Yakuza breaking its laws. If you are in the Yakuza, apparently you have carte blanche.
Paul McCartney was arrested in Japan and placed in prison for 10 days, though I would imagine it wasn't a really bad prison, before being deported without having given any of his scheduled performances.
Man... always have the roadie carry your stash!
Anyhow... the Japanese government does have a search and destroy team of professionals, whose job it is is to seek out these wild growing marijuana plants, and then destroy them.
Back in 1983, the government destroyed 8.5 million plants.
Nowadays, they only destroy about 660,000 plants, which means that either they aren't destroying them all, or they just aren't finding as many. It's the latter one, you mush head.
Look, since you don't want to go to jail in Japan, might I suggest you find out WHERE these plants are being destroyed - burned - and stand downwind of the bonfire with a bag of Cheetos and glass of red wine... you may as well be classy.
It's 4:20PM... time to go.