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Spread of cannabis abuse among young people must be prevented

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe spread of cannabis among young people is serious. To prevent them from turning to cannabis without much thought, it is necessary to strengthen the crackdown on abuse and further promote educational activities.

The number of people subjected to a clampdown reached an all-time high of 3,578 last year. People aged 29 or younger account for more than half of the people involved in these cases. More than a few university students, as well as high school and junior high school students, are included.

Unlawful drugs are being bought and sold through social networking services, by which anyone can anonymously get in touch with other people. Young people can easily buy cannabis, among other things, as it is inexpensive compared with stimulant and other drugs.

The spread of cannabis abuse seems to partly reflect the fact that drug users are turning to cannabis, as efforts have been heightened to crack down on dangerous drugs that are produced in a way that makes their chemical structures akin to those of such drugs as narcotics.

Cannabis is a drug that can be produced from wild plants in the hemp family, and grasses that have been dried are marijuana. If cannabis is smoked, its hallucinogenic ingredients affect a user’s cerebral nerves, and they can fall into a state of excitement and suffer a decline in their ability to concentrate.

If one uses cannabis for extended periods, it can result in hallucinations, delusions and deterioration of the memory, and the person may become addicted. The risk of these abnormalities is especially high in cases of adolescents smoking cannabis. Liquid cannabis and wax-like cannabis are even more dangerous, as their hallucinogenic ingredients are concentrated.

If a person dabbles in cannabis, they could look for even stronger stimulation. Cannabis is also called a “gateway drug,” as its use can lead to abuse of stimulants and other drugs. Everyone must realize that using cannabis without much thought will create a situation that cannot be undone.

Correct mistaken impressions

It also must not be forgotten that cannabis is a source of money for organized crime syndicates and other antisocial groups.

What cannot be overlooked is the dissemination of information that denies the harmful nature of cannabis, as shown by the fact that cannabis has been asserted as “safe” on the internet and elsewhere in recent years.

In some countries overseas, the use of cannabis is permitted for such medical purposes as alleviating pain. Last year, Canada legalized the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. These circumstances appear to be one factor behind the spread of erroneous information.

A case in point is the results of a survey conducted by the National Police Agency two years ago targeting about 500 people subject to a crackdown over possession of cannabis. More than 60 percent of the respondents were found to have seen little danger in using cannabis. More than 70 percent of those in their 20s answered likewise. This situation is alarming.

“Unless one inconveniences other people, the use of drugs is a matter of individual freedom.” This was the answer given by 7 percent of about 23,000 new students in surveys conducted last year by four private universities in the Kansai region.

To prevent the spread of drug abuse among young people, it is important to promote educational activities aimed at correcting their mistaken perceptions and help them acquire the ability to control themselves.

Last year, the Hyogo prefectural police conducted this kind of program at elementary, junior high and high schools in the prefecture, aimed at emphasizing the danger of drug abuse. About 260 classes were held. Such steady educational activities are required.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 15, 2019)Speech



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