Japan gets tough on law-evading hallucinogenic herbs

Japan gets tough on law-evading hallucinogenic herbs

TOKYO —

In recent years, the use of law-evading hallucinogenic herbs has been becoming more popular among young people in Japan. These herbs have properties similar to those of illegal drugs like cannabis, however due to their synthetic nature, many users fail to see the real dangers lurking behind them.

As an initiative to prevent widespread misuse, the government produced a comprehensive list of chemicals that are banned in the sale and use of law-evading hallucinogenic herbs on March 22, 2013. The chemical substances on the list recently rose from 92 to 851.

However, many shops are selling a modified version of the banned herbs in attempt to evade the issues of legalities and keep profits alive. In this way, it is a cat and mouse game where once one chemical has been outlawed, a similar substance carrying slightly altered chemical properties is quick to make its way on to the market. While effects of inhaling these herbs are similar to hallucinogenic drugs, shopkeepers claim that they are solely for aromatic purposes. Of particular concern is that the number of online law-evading herb shops is also increasing.

Taking a walk down a backstreet of Shinjuku or Kabukicho, it is not uncommon to come across one of these “herb shops.” However, upon entering inside and asking the owner of the exact purpose of use, the usual reply is “aromatic.” Of course, the shop owners and the customers that shop at these types of establishments all know the real purpose of use. According to research carried out by Sankei News, one shop in the same area completely changes its stock with newly modified herbs once every three months so as to evade any legal complications.

While getting hold of such herbs is straightforward, the dangers of using hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes are easy to overlook. For example, reports suggests that users of heavier drugs often start off with soft drugs in their teens and then move to heavier substances when the stimulation effect isn’t enough later in life. In this way, it is believed that law-evading herbs could be a gateway to hard drug use. Fears particularly grow when it comes to the younger generations who see law-evading herbs as a trendy alternative to illegal drugs without the taboos.

In an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating further, police are giving young people caught with hallucinogenic herbs strict guidance. Before, discipline was restricted merely to a verbal warning. In addition, police authorities are reported to be considering increasing the restrictions on law-evading herbs even further.

According to Sankei News, in April of last year, the number of shops in Tokyo selling these herbs was 82, however of present this has dropped to 61. Even so, the number of internet shops based in Tokyo has been rising, however unlike shops that have a physical presence, the exact number of Net shops is difficult to estimate.

Source: Sankei News

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  • 11

    Moonraker

    Just legalise cannabis then people won't be endangering their bodies testing out new law-evading drugs. It is totally crazy.

    And if ever there was a country that needed to be un-repressed and have a laugh it is this one. It could be the spark the country needs.

  • 5

    JustinPascoe31

    I agree @moonraker. They have illegalised the wrong drug. The synthetic stuff, from what I’ve read and been told, is more of a mental explosion than anything. Friends of mine couldn’t believe that the synthetic stuff was actually legal and people were driving whilst under the influence. Compare that with the naturally occurring Cannabis that only makes you dopy and chilled out, I don’t know, but I think legalize Marijuana and eliminate the potential for people ending up with severe mental issues by smoking synthetic drugs.

  • 4

    Dilbert14

    Let the people do what they want. Each of us are responsible of keeping our lives happy and productive. Let the person decide and deal with any substance they see fit in their lives. There aren't that many people interested in these things and the ones interested are not going to be lifetime users. It's just a period in life. The punishment for using these substances should not be more violent than the potential effect of the substance. It's not governments responsibility to stop people from experimenting alternate state of consciousness.

  • 1

    badsey3

    You should stay away from this stuff. Does not look healthy at all. There are plenty of natural herbs and mushrooms in Japan that are far better and safer than this "synthetic" who knows what it could be? stuff.

  • 3

    bass4funk

    Just legalise cannabis then people won't be endangering their bodies testing out new law-evading drugs. It is totally crazy.

    And if ever there was a country that needed to be un-repressed and have a laugh it is this one. It could be the spark the country needs.

    Best post every written on JT. I couldn't agree with you more. You just summed up this nations entire problems.

  • 3

    tapi0ca

    While getting hold of such herbs is straightforward, the dangers of using hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes are easy to overlook. For example, reports suggests that users of heavier drugs often start off with soft drugs in their teens and then move to heavier substances when the stimulation effect isn’t enough later in life.

    Sorry. There is no science to back up this blanket claim. Boo.

  • 6

    Nessie

    For example, reports suggests that users of heavier drugs often start off with soft drugs in their teens and then move to heavier substances

    By this logic, alchohol should be banned.

  • 1

    Strangerland

    In an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating further, police are giving young people caught with hallucinogenic herbs strict guidance. Before, discipline was restricted merely to a verbal warning.

    What exactly is the difference between a verbal warning and strict guidance? And how do the police even have a right to do either of these when the substances aren't illegal.

    They are basically screwed. Technology has beat them so that they cannot legislate morality anymore.

  • 2

    Thunderbird2

    I can only assume that a majority of the posters above are cannabis or marijuana users... or have been going by their comments

  • 0

    CraigHicks

    "a similar substance carrying slightly altered chemical properties"

    It's difficult to believe they haven't thought of making illegal a class of chemicals. If they are only slightly altered then then the rest of the properties are the same.

  • 3

    borscht

    users of heavier drugs often start off with soft drugs in their teens

    Very, very few people wake up one day and say, today I'm going to start using heroin and cocaine. In fact, almost all 'heavy drug users' start off with mother's milk or formula. Then, probably, beer and whiskey, because they are the 'socially accepted' depressants. So, of course, herbs are gateway drugs. So are beer and whiskey.

  • 2

    malfupete

    i love how they call these herbs

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    Last thing I want to see is Japanese people getting off their face with weed.

    There are some who go on to harder drugs from weed and hash, etc... When they interview crack or heroin addicts on TV or in the papers they nearly always say they started off by smoking Cannabis and then, after a longer and more intense high, progress to the killer variety of drugs.

    The people who tend to deny any link are those who smoke the stuff.... the old "won't happen to me" line.

  • 0

    mrazekjeff

    love is the DRUG

  • 1

    jessebaybay

    Scrolled down so I could comment about how legalising the real thing is the way to go. Glad to see other people are of the same opinion.

  • 1

    commusara

    Moonraker The logic is a bit flawed, it assumes everybody would use Cannabis because it's legal instead of all others. But a person looking for psychedelics won't just be happy with weed, same thing with someone looking for a stimulant. Because otherwise everybody would just drink alcohol and nobody would touch cannabis, but it don't work that way because people want different things from there experiences with drugs.

    So for a real solution I would say that we need full legalization, and cannabis would be a good place to start. ( I do assume that Japan have some problems with all RC, drugs and not just Cannabinoids )

  • 1

    Yubaru

    For example, reports suggests that users of heavier drugs often start off with soft drugs in their teens and then move to heavier substances when the stimulation effect isn’t enough later in life. In this way, it is believed that law-evading herbs could be a gateway to hard drug use.

    It's a problem of education! Japanese people have been so isolated for so long, with regards to drugs, that people have no idea the problems that drug use can cause a society. Everything they know about them is from what they see on TV and not reality.

  • 1

    Ignacio Heredia

    I'm assuming this means no more Mario games then.

  • 1

    habidaccus

    The gateway theory is a bust. Alcohol and tobacco are by and large more likely to be "gateway" drugs that cannabis. The only real reason cannabis is implicated is because of its legal status anyhow.

    Japanese people off their face on "weed" means more relaxed and happy. But I do support this stuff being limited if not banned. The difference between the synthetics, or "spice" versus cannabis, are vast. There is at least some evidence for it causing severe psychotic episodes, and in the end, what do you trust: a naturally occurring substance or something that is basically a hodgepodge of man-made chemicals?

  • 0

    JoeBigs

    Japan gets tough on law-evading hallucinogenic herbs

    Good get that junk off the streets.

    I hear a whole lot of it comes from the PRC.

  • -4

    RomeoRII

    Japan needs to step up its education campaign against all illegal drugs. Pot has been found time and again to be a gateway drug to use of harder narcotics. Weed fiends are the scourge of all advanced societies.

    RR

  • 1

    lucabrasi

    @Romeo

    Weed fiends are the scourge of all advanced societies.

    Ha ha! "Weed fiends". I feel like I'm in 1963!

  • 2

    Kent Mcgraw

    Actually, banning substances does more to create a desire for them than it does to stop the use of them. People are always interested in what others say they can not do or can not have. By banning them, you create interest and desire plus a market for criminals to sell rather than legitimate merchants. Alcohol is legal but there are many that do not use it because they have seen the effects it has had on an alcoholic. There are many that drink but are not alcoholics. All things in moderation. The addictive personality will get addicted to anything, the person with self control will use moderation.

  • 0

    ohayo206

    Whatever...ppl will find what they need, if they want it badly enough. Take the case of bath salts phenomenon.

  • 1

    habidaccus

    @Romeo

    Do you have some actual facts to back those absurd claims up? The ironic thing about your statement is that if they actually were up to date on their knowledge of substances, they'd have no reason to prohibit some of them.

  • 0

    Christopher Smith

    Drugs in moderation, I say.

  • 0

    sincerely999

    This cat and mouse game would continue forever. What it would be like in the future? Which is smart, cat or mouse?

  • 0

    Walkimio

    Young people need priorities, school, age, brain, personality. Dont smoke Cannabis before age 18 better 20. The natural Cannabis is a good medication for a lot of physical & mental illness ! But this chemical fake herb is dirt, even expensive than the original Cannabis, but much....I say MUCH more dangerous than the original. The western countrys users stay long time in touch with it, and knows about the risk of this fake dirt herb. Japan users just begin to collect this experiences. Is Milk a beginners drug like Cannabis? Because alkoholics had start drink milk at their young age bevor they become alks?

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