“Is a whale a fish?” Illegal drugs in Japan in 2020
February 10, 2021 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Japan likes to present itself as the only developed nation with effective drug prohibition, with lifetime cannabis use at 1.8%, compared to over 40% for the US and Canada. However, 2020 was an unusually tumultuous year for Japanese drug warriors. The most fascinating event has been a highly exceptional and irregular trial (still ongoing, link courtesy of archive.org as the site seems to be down) of one 青井硝子 (AOI Garasu, "Blue Glass", a pseudonym), that hinges on whether a "tea" (a simple water extraction of plant material that is not itself illegal, but contains a prohibited substance, DMT) can be considered an illegal "drug". Things took a turn for the strange when the defendant stood up in court and asked, "Is a whale a fish?".

The outcome of those historic trials do not bode well for the defendent. (Beware, the first link uses an obsolete TLS version, but the warning is safe to ignore if you are only reading.)

More background on AOI Glass, from 2017:
Glass, a graduate of Hirosaki University's Agriculture Biotechnology department, told me he initially began his research into ayahuasca as part of an effort to treat his friends' depression, after several acquaintances lost their jobs. "I started by smoking all the random grass seeds I found on the street for three years and writing down the effects. Also with random mushrooms and leaves," he explained. "Then I studied ayahuasca for one year. I studied all the elements that it contains and tried to recreate them from the seeds and herbs I had smoked and studied while also ejecting the elements that induce vomiting." From there, Glass says he began growing ingredients, testing his concoctions on himself twice a week for six months straight, tweaking the recipe along the way. After settling on a formula, Glass claims he had medical tests done on his blood, urine, and semen to ensure his recipe, served as a brewed tea, wouldn't inadvertently be poisoning people.
More blog posts about the trial here and here and here... (The author admits to some fictionalization of these accounts. I was unable to find official court transcripts.)

The trial reveals how drug laws lead to unscientific absurdities. For instance, if acacia tea can be an illegal drug, why not orange juice?
It may surprise you to learn that common citrus trees like oranges and lemons are actually Schedule I substances, in the same legal category as heroin. I know it sounds absurd, but it is absolutely true. Recent analysis published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Servillo et al. 2013) found that several citrus plants, including lemons and oranges, contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (bufotenine). Both of these compounds are powerful hallucinogens and are designated as Schedule I substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act in the United States. Under that same law, “any material” containing “any quantity” of a Schedule I drug is itself legally equivalent to that drug.

The upshot of this is that domestic citrus producers are in fact operating a massive drug manufacturing enterprise, legally speaking.
DMT is also found in trace quantities in human bodily fluids. This is not the first time Japan has tried to make the human body illegal. (previously)

Some more background on the case, courtesy of Google Translate, by the same author as the above blog posts, including testimony from the college student whose hospitalization sparked the arrest:
"I used to just want to commit suicide, but now I don't think about it anymore." "I think there are quite a few people besides me who have been saved by drinking acacia tea."
The seventh court session is scheduled for February 16th, 2021. The defendant is asking people not to attend for COVID-19 reasons.

Other developments in 2020:

Seizures of liquid cannabis concentrates skyrocketed:
According to Tokyo Customs, the liquid marijuana seizure amount was roughly 400 grams for the whole of 2019, but it jumped to some 9 kilograms in the first half of 2020 and to 18 kilograms in the following five months through the end of November.
When Prime Minister 安倍晋三 (ABE Shinzō), whose First Lady, 昭恵 (Akie), is an outspoken advocate of a revival of traditional hemp culture, resigned in September due to ulcerative colitis, he was replaced by 菅義偉 (SUGA Yoshihide), an anti-cannabis hardliner.
“Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively,” Ms. Abe is quoted as saying. “While it is not yet permitted in Japan, I think it can be put into great practical use for medical purposes as well."
In early December, the U.N. Commission for Narcotic Drugs narrowly passed a resolution removing Cannabis from Schedule Ⅳ of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (for drugs with little or no medical use, such as heroin), which is itself a stricter subset of Schedule Ⅰ (the most dangerous and addictive drugs, which may have medicinal use, such as cocaine). Japan joined Russia and China in opposing the resolution:
Japan stated that the non-medical use of the plant “might give rise to negative health and social impacts, especially among youth”.
Here is the full statement from Japan.

(Note, not those schedules, nor those schedules, but these schedules.)

Its hand forced by the U.N., Japan is now in the precarious position of continuing their overall just-say-no-style 「ダメ。ゼッタイ。」 ("No, absolutely NO!" No machine translation for this PDF, but even if you can't read Japanese, enjoy the whimsical illustrations.) message, in spite of having lost the pretext that cannabis has no medicinal value. They apparently plan to square this particular circle by criminalizing ingestion of cannabis, ostensibly to detect diversion from legitimate medical supplies through drug testing, and have assembled a panel of experts to explore this avenue:
The health ministry attributes the growing youth abuse of marijuana to what it calls the misguided, but widespread, narrative on the internet that cannabis is “less harmful and addictive” than the likes of cigarettes and alcohol.
Another possible reason why more youngsters are smoking pot is the dwindling availability of quasi-legal designer drugs dubbed “kiken (dangerous) drugs.”

Having once emerged as a popular alternative for marijuana, those legal highs have since become the target of an ever-intensifying police crackdown, which, in turn, is believed to have steered many young people back toward marijuana, the ministry says.
“If we want to rectify the rampant abuse of marijuana among young people, this panel, going forward, needs to be able to present a more convincing, data-based argument to society about how harmful and terrifying marijuana is,” another member pointed out.
(If you are really interested, this is the dossier handed out during the meeting (unfortunately in Japanese, but the source for the 1.8% figure above is the graph on page 6) and here are the machine translated meeting minutes, courtesy of Google Translate.)

An aside: you could be forgiven for being surprised that Japan, with its well-deserved reputation for zero tolerance for drugs, would permit such a glaring loophole as not having laws against ingesting cannabis:
Lore has it that in enacting the law, legislators were concerned about the possibility of farmers mistakenly inhaling psychoactive substances of the crop during the cultivation process, and it was to avert their arrest that the personal consumption of marijuana wasn’t criminalized, or so the popular theory goes.
According to panelist 松本俊彦 (MATSUMOTO Toshihiko), there may be a more sinister reason for criminalizing personal consumption:
In an interview with BuzzFeed Japan, one of the panel members, addiction expert Toshihiko Matsumoto, theorized that after use of so-called kiken (dangerous) drugs declined following tougher regulations several years ago, the health ministry division in charge of illegal drugs has had less work to do, and so is lobbying for tougher marijuana laws in order to get its budget allocation back.
(original here, courtesy of Google translate, plus two more)

Meanwhile, in September, actor 伊勢谷友介 (ISEYA Yūsuke) was arrested for cannabis possession, putting his upcoming film, "Rurouni Kenshin: The Final", in jeopardy, and sparking criticism of extralegal punishment and "shunning" of drug defendants. Among the critics is Osaka lawyer 亀石倫子 (KAMEISHI Michiko), who started a petition in favor of harm reduction rather than increasingly harsher drug policy, which at the time of this writing has collected over 9000 signatures:
Severe punishment does not make anyone happy. Transform drug policy into harm reduction! We oppose the strengthening of drug crackdowns on cannabis and the creation of "cannabis use crimes"!
Still here? As a bonus, enjoy this lovely video of 鈴木勉 (SUZUKI Tsutomu), chairperson of the aforementioned cannabis law panel, explaining how cannabis is bad because if you use it and raise your arms, you won't be able to lower them again. (Yes, you read that right. Notice that comments are disabled, for reasons that should be obvious.)

Previously about DMT: 1, 2, 3, 4
Previously about ayahuasca: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. (45 comments total) 102 users marked this as a favorite
First post, after 20+ years of lurking! I pray that my humble plate of beans is inoffensive to your sophisticated palates.
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 5:48 AM on February 10 [136 favorites]

Saliant detail on that Rurouni Kenshin movie: the original mangaka was arrested and convicted of possessing child porn (actual child porn, not just drawn images) but was welcomed back by Shonen Jump nonetheless, whereas, well, one cannabis possession charge can ruin your entire career.

Excellent post!
posted by MartinWisse at 6:06 AM on February 10 [16 favorites]

Fascinating. Excellent post, TGWRABP.

Japan is a social laggard globally due in no small part to the entrenched gerontocracy. But when it comes to cannabis and drugs, they're particularly retrograde. If it was any other judicial system, I'd say this case could possibly lead to better things. But law in Japan is theater at best and a travesty in many cases. Still, I hope.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 6:09 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]

“If we want to rectify the rampant abuse of marijuana among young people, this panel, going forward, needs to be able to present a more convincing, data-based argument to society about how harmful and terrifying marijuana is,” another member pointed out.

Yeah, good luck with trying to make a convincing, data-based argument for something that simply isn't the case (unless he thinks that arguing that it is at worst comparable to the recreational drugs that are legal is going to have a huge impact on the yoof.)
posted by Dysk at 6:17 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

Wow, that's incredible for a rookie post, TGWRABP. All I really know about cannabis in Japan is that even Paul McCartney doesn't get a break when it comes to bringing weed into Japan. I also wondered if the post title was referencing this meme.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:21 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]

I'm just amazed you managed to lurk for 20+ years and resisted the impulse to post something!
posted by wittgenstein at 6:30 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Interesting posts like this one are why I've been lurking for 20 years too. Thanks TGWRABP.
posted by prambutan at 6:35 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]

A note about anti depressants in Japan: most of the modern non-SSRI ones are legal, but unavailable. (The prime example of this is bupropion, which has the brand name Welbutrin when sold as an anti depressant.) They can be imported by someone with a valid prescription in another country, but are not for sale in Japan. So if Aoi Glass was looking to help friends with depression, they could easily have been those for whom SSRIs did not work or have such strong side effects that they are not worth taking.

(Also, any and all medications that even have a wiff of being amphetamine related are banned, including pseudoephedrine and every ADHD medication except methylphenidate. Japan has excellent medical care for physical injuries (My MRI while there was scheduled in less than a week and cost ¥5000 (about $50)) but the view of mental healthcare being as important as physical healthcare seems to be not there yet.)
posted by Hactar at 6:45 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]

> Halloween Jack
I also wondered if the post title was referencing this meme.
Gah, that's perfect, I'm kicking myself!
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 6:49 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

> Hactar
They can be imported by someone with a valid prescription in another country, but are not for sale in Japan.
I haven't looked into it too deeply, so I'm not sure how it works, but this site claims that it can import medicines on your behalf, even prescription ones, as long as the quantity is less than one month's worth. I assume this is how Glass had his customers supply their own Aurorix for the "pharma" part of pharmahuasca. Which raises the question...

(I'm ashamed to admit that even though I'm not sure how it works, I've still used that site to order Etizolam a.k.a デパス to help me sleep on the Tokyo ⇔ Osaka night bus once or twice a year.)
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 7:11 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

This was an epic post, touching on something (the irrationality of drug warriors and the power of the systems that enable them and the moral abhorrence of the outcomes they make) that is of longstanding interest to me. Thank you. Too often we hear only the English-speaking world's version of the story.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 7:20 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]

oh my, applause. I cannot visit the library and I so miss the serendipitous discoveries a person makes walking the stacks.. MeFi has been my library and this item is a miracle find indeed.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:43 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

“Is a whale a fish?” The defendant is lucky that the judge wasn’t Herman Melville; he’d never hear the end of it, maybe lie really. Of course, Melville probably knew his way around hemp....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:48 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]

Every club everywhere has a sorta-kinda wink-and-a-nod approach to drug consumption on premises, but the clubs I visited in Japan were absolutely serious about it, and I believe that if someone were found with so much as a roach that the police would be called. Hell, I was worried about my inhalers, since albuterol is treated as an illegal stimulant and is strictly controlled. The club friends I went out with in Tokyo were genuinely shocked and scandalized that people in clubs outside of Japan consume narcotics basically right out in the open. "That's for bad people!" one friend commented. Which, huh.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:16 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]

elkevelvet: oh my, applause.

I would applaud too, but my arms have been stuck in the raised position for some time.
posted by dr_dank at 8:56 AM on February 10 [20 favorites]


Which leads to the hilarious series of signs and pamphlets you used to encounter on approaching the gate to a flight to Japan imploring you to dump your Vicks Inhaler before boarding. You can get pissed as a fart every night after work and behave atrociously without comment, but just one inhaler = jail time.
posted by scruss at 10:32 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]

99+% conviction rate for Japanese trials+routine use of coerced confession = not great!
posted by lalochezia at 10:43 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]

Yeah the workings of the Japanese justice system + their general attitude against drugs makes the trial seem like a foregone conclusion.

At the beginning of our relationship it was a bit tough for my wife, who is Japanese, and I to reconcile our differences with respect to drug use. I'm an observant Muslim so I don't use any of them but to me it always just felt like it was on a continuum with other things like smoking or drinking and the legal prohibition against some of these but not others was a question of legality as opposed to morality. For her she's grown up with the dual messaging that drugs are bad as well as illegal while things like smoking or drinking were not. This wasn't with respect to our use because there wasn't any but that of our friends or acquaintances and over time she's come to the point that she can accept that someone smoking a joint every now and again isn't necessarily a bad person. I have no idea how she'd feel about someone using something harder than that as it hasn't come up in our lives.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:17 AM on February 10 [7 favorites]

I've still used that site to order Etizolam a.k.a デパス to help me sleep on the Tokyo ⇔ Osaka night bus once or twice a year.)

Interesting, that one is grey market in the U.S. (illegal in a few states) but prescribed in Japan.
posted by atoxyl at 11:55 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Incredible post! Incredible username! Just all around good stuff here.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:31 PM on February 10

"Hemp is a plant of which all of its parts can be used effectively,” Ms. Abe is quoted as saying. “While it is not yet permitted in Japan...

Maybe not now, but it sure used to be. The traditional asanoha pattern is derived from the marijuana leaf.
posted by Rash at 12:42 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

Genius, you went deep. Way deep. Great post.
posted by hoodrich at 12:52 PM on February 10

I can't wait for your next post, in...[checks calendar]...2041!
posted by grateful at 12:54 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]

It never fails to astound me that a culture with such entrenched alcohol and nicotine use can turn so harshly against something as innocuous as cannabis. It's doublethink of the highest caliber, supported by extensive propaganda and social pressure.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:57 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]

This is a very good post! Also, from living and working in Japan, I can confirm that “department wants to justify its budget” is at least as likely here as anywhere else
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:59 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Great post. It’s one of the absolutely confounding things here, how very Nancy Reaganish this country is when it comes to drugs. My personal bugbear is that reports of drug arrests in the news almost always stop at “dangerous drugs” rather than stating what drug was used. Everything is 危険(kiken/dangerous). To me, that’s a terrible policy because people are going to do drugs, but if you just keep saying everything is dangerous, you end up getting tuned out. Then you have people who don’t know anything about drugs, or the differences between them, and you end up with someone smoking meth instead of weed because all they know is “drugs.”

I wish it didn’t sound so terribly after school special, but honestly, that’s the level of discourse about drugs in Japan. The demand is most certainly there, but there’s a terrible lack of education or concepts of safe consumption that I honestly believes does more harm than good.

It’s not that drugs aren’t available here, or that people aren’t using them. For me, it’s not worth risking my permanent residency over, and if I’m somewhere (okay, in the before days, if I was somewhere and people are going to smoke or whatever, I’ll just slip out and head home, vaguely nostalgic for the days when you could get mushrooms legally here (up until about 2006?).
posted by Ghidorah at 3:30 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]

Yeah it’s kind of funny how simultaneously hardline Japan is about drugs and yet so uninformed. People seem to think that marijuana is a white powder, but also just sort of casually wear marijuana leaf necklaces or middle schoolers might have a marijuana leaf design covering their pencil cases. I have found that people generally seem to think “it’s a maple leaf” or, perhaps more worrying, “it’s from the Jamaican flag”
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:51 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]

I've only read the preface to Is a Whale a Fish?, but so far it is hilarious.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:40 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

> Ghidorah
vaguely nostalgic for the days when you could get mushrooms legally here (up until about 2006?)
I wish I was more informed about this, but this happened before my time, in 2002. Wikipedia says it's this guy's fault (†), but I've also heard (somewhere?) that it was prohibited in preparation for the joint Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup, maybe out of fear of an influx of rowdy foreigners high on legal mushrooms?

† He made the national news when he panicked, ran into a convenience store and started shouting for an ambulance after taking mushrooms. (Okay, it isn't really his fault, because Just Say No makes it hard to learn about trip sitters and harm reduction in general.)
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 5:43 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]

Still here? As a bonus, enjoy this lovely video of 鈴木勉 (SUZUKI Tsutomu) yt , chairperson of the aforementioned cannabis law panel, explaining how cannabis is bad because if you use it and raise your arms, you won't be able to lower them again.

oh great - now he tells me

how long is my kid going to have to hold this keyboard above my head and my arms before i can type normally again?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:48 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

Now I'm really curious to see some Japanese anti-drug propaganda.
What's the local version of Reefer Madness?

I also wonder if this is generational, possibly in some way related to the fact that at some point the people who still think tattoo = criminal are basically going to die off, and nothing's going to change until then?
posted by bartleby at 6:05 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]

The problem is younger generations are pretty good at accepting the prejudices and delusions of older generations at face value, as seen in societal problems like racism in America (and Japan for that matter). No doubt younger people in Japan are more tolerant of drugs and tattoos and uh, women's genitals, than older people, but you can't count on that alone. It takes active education and outreach to keep these misapprehensions from continuing to hold.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:58 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

> Now I'm really curious to see some Japanese anti-drug propaganda.

As someone who still consumes more anime and manga than is good for him, I'd venture that to a great extent Japanese pulp media doesn't really need a canonical "Reefer Madness" type work. Street drugs, whether smoked, injected, or consumed as pills or liquid, have whatever effect is convenient to the author, and characters will pass out, or be over-energized, or get zonked, sometimes simultaneously. That's just what happens, apparently (let's preemptively ignore the sci/fi fantasy scenarios of people mutating into monsters or turning invisible or whatever). I vaguely remember a scene in the "Crying Freeman" manga, which I think I last read in the early 90s, in which a yakuza is lecturing others that even though he is a mobster, his gang is too honorable to allow street drugs onto Japanese soil. So there's that, too: In this narrative the corrosive influence of drugs on the people of Japan is considered worse than murder, extortion, prostitution, and so on.

But portrayals of illness, medical treatment and medicine, where there are fewer societal taboos, are just as vague and no more realistic. It indicates a broad, handwavy attitude towards (and lack of curiosity about) the workings of the human body and psyche. People are inexplicably hospitalized for weeks or months for no apparent reason or because doctors don't know what's wrong with them. And sometimes they are released for no apparent reason, or are released because doctors don't know what's wrong with them. Which makes sense in a world where people come down with exotic contagious diseases on the regular, spending their hospital stays in private rooms that welcome the usual steady stream of visits from family and friends.

While these are all standard fiction tropes, and couched within stories containing many many more unrealistic tropes, presumably everyone in Japan has experiences in the medical system and can compare those experiences with what they see in fiction to understand what's being exaggerated. But they don't have similar experiences around street drugs to contrast with the fictional portrayals so the lack of consistency and realism ends up inadvertently informing public consensus.
posted by ardgedee at 7:46 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

iirc, McCartney's story was that he just tossed in a couple of pounds of weed while packing for the tour, without noticing in particular that he was doing so.

Now at first I thought this was ridiculous, and that he had simply figured that no one would search his bags, he's royalty, the era of police counting coup against rock stars by arresting them for pot ended 12 years before, step right up and get your passport stamped. He needed to say something that would allow him to keep saying he had made a terrible mistake, and never meant to break the law, as he apologized and tried to generate enough goodwill to just get deported, which did eventually happen.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that it may have gone down just like that. Socks, extra strings and felt picks, camera, three pounds of weed, some magazines for the flight, check. Even regular potheads can fall into this thing where they kind of forget that what they like to do for fun is actually illegal; how much more susceptible to this cannabis bubble of optimism would McCartney have been? It just becomes part of the background to life. Now, this is no way to pack for international travel. Even if you own the plane. As he found out to his discomfort!
posted by thelonius at 8:08 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]

The genius, yeah, that timeline kind of fits with what I remember. I got here in 2000, and remember the thing about the guy freaking out, and wouldn't be surprised if that ended up being the reason they closed the loophole. Now, mushrooms are on the same scale as heroin, and last I heard, that was possession (of any amount) is a minimum of six years.

As far as anti-drug propaganda here, there isn't much. It's just "DRUGS BAD" without much nuance or discussion. Yes, people use drugs, yes, they are available (though not easily), but the penalties are severe and, as noted above, much more than just judicial. Being arrested for using drugs is a pretty definite loss of whatever job you had, and a good amount of social stigma past that. There is also a very solid anti-foreign aspect to it. It's never about drugs being made in Japan, it's always drugs being smuggled in by (insert currently "bad" foreigners here). Just the idea that there might be any domestic production of drugs is never suggested, and most "normal" people would be shocked at finding out someone they knew used drugs.

At least in regards to drugs, it really can be like living in "a very special episode" from the 80s sometimes.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:18 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]

If people are interested in the broader context of drug policy in modern Japan, there is Miriam Kingsberg Kadia‘s Moral Nation: Modern Japan and Narcotics in Global History.

posted by mustard seeds at 8:36 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]

> donttouchmymustache
... entrenched gerontocracy ... law in Japan is theater ...
I keep finding myself returning to this incredible comment, which really transcends the topic of this post.

Specifically I'm reminded of this asshat, whose Japanese Wikipedia page has a whole big section on his "slips of the tongue", but still got on the JOC because he's a "good ol' boy".

I'm also reminded of the big nothingburger that happened after Carlos Ghosn fled Japan in protest of "hostage justice".

In the case of Mori, a lot of news coverage here specifically mentioned the negative press the incident was getting overseas, so I'm hopeful that as the world gets more connected, English education here employs more native speakers, and machine translation allows for more exchange of opinion with non-speakers, Japan will feel pressure to become more progressive.

Japan has gotten a lot of mileage out of being an island with a huge language barrier, but that won't last forever.
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 11:29 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

Some of the most sensual and euphoric mdma nikoniko may have ever sampled was in Osaka ”\(☆.☆)/”

nikoniko may have also managed to find some terribly overpriced poor quality ganja from some dudes who may or may not have been members of a syndicate. The hassle, cost, paranoia, and low quality of the plant was not really worth it.

Prohibition sort of works if you're governing an island...
posted by nikoniko at 12:08 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

If it's true that nobody in Japan does drugs, I have some questions about every Nintendo game ever.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 2:13 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

> nikoniko
Prohibition sort of works if you're governing an island...
At least until THC- and psilocybin-producing bio-engineered yeast get smuggled in...
posted by The genius who rejected Anno's budget proposal. at 4:25 AM on February 11

I have some questions about every Nintendo game ever.

Julian Cope's Japrocksampler touches on the issue, mentioning that, for an island with strict and generally effective drug prohibition, Japan produces some heavily psychedelic music, much of which is made straight.
posted by acb at 4:48 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]

At least until THC- and psilocybin-producing bio-engineered yeast get smuggled in...

You don't even need yeast, the seeds and spores are already there.

Prohibition is not a great policy, and it generally causes more harm than good, unless we're talking about firearms.

This is a good post that shows the mind-bending hypocrisy and factlessness of the policy, at least as it relates to marijuana.
posted by nikoniko at 12:07 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

> Japan produces some heavily psychedelic music, much of which is made straight

Sure sure, but this music you speak of... is it, like, 30% mushrooms?
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 12:48 PM on February 11

I recognize the punchline you're trying very hard to force through, but maybe consider looking for new material
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:35 PM on February 11

This is an incredible post and I’ve been sharing the links to non-mefite pals.

Fist went to Japan back in the early 2000s. Travelled all over with an underground pop star whose name shall not be mentioned. Weed was everywhere and even though I don’t smoke, it was definitely quality stuff according to my pot head travel partners.

At one point we stayed at this cat’s place and I asked what he did for money. He had multiple vehicles, a massive sound system (like, way more than a stereo), this huge house for just him and his spouse, and a garden that went on forever. He said, “I’m a farmer...” and I let it go at that.

In the morning he woke me up at sunrise, before anyone else was up. We went outside and into this ‘garden.’ That’s really too small a word for it as it went on and on and eventually there were massive bamboo trees to push through. And what was inside of this thicket? Weed. So. Much. Weed. Gorgeous stinky plants under a canopy of bamboo. Too hide them from the helicopters, he told me. He was a farmer alright.

Until now, I assumed weed was ubiquitous in Japan because it was being smoked everywhere we went. Not in public but at all the parties, in an underground tunnel where I spent the night as the equivalent to a freak out hippie zone rave melted around me, on the river side, in the parks, and at music festivals.

Reading this craziness and reading all your stories about anti-drug culture in Japan has made me realize what a skewed view I came away from that country with and I was there for two months. Sheltered travel experience, I guess. Thanks for clueing me in, Metafilter!
posted by artof.mulata at 8:44 PM on February 11 [8 favorites]

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