Japanese students more open to use of marijuana, survey suggests

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Japanese junior high school students have become more open to the use of marijuana, in part due to the influence of the internet, an official survey suggested.

In the biennial survey conducted last year by the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, 1.9 percent of about 70,000 junior high school students polled said they do not mind at all about its use or do not mind if just a little is used, up from 1.5 percent in 2016.

While the number of juvenile cases involving marijuana use is on the rise in Japan, of the respondents, 0.3 percent said they have experienced taking illegal drugs, including stimulants. The percentage remains unchanged from the previous survey.

Takuya Shimane, a researcher at the national center who was in charge of the survey, said the increased use of the internet is one of the biggest factors behind young people becoming more open to illegal drugs and that it is important to raise awareness about a number of problems associated with their use.

"There is no doubting that they are influenced by watching videos of drug use and developments abroad decriminalizing marijuana," Shimane said.

The survey, the 12th of its kind, was conducted from September to December in 2018, covering 183 schools across the country.

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