After adding four types of synthetic marijuana to a list of illicit substances this summer, Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is set to expand the list significantly. The Japan Times reports:
The ministry plans to first designate 774 synthetic cannabis drugs as subject to an import, production and sales ban, the officials said…
The new designations will represent a substantial expansion of the pharmaceutical law, which now covers 90 drugs.
The law provides for up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥5 million for selling banned drugs for commercial purposes.
The ministry plans to gradually expand the designation in a bid to allow regional governments and police to swiftly clamp down on a wide range of drugs that produce narcotic effects, including hallucinations.
Japan has among the lowest rates of drug use in the developed world, but there's always room to fearmonger. From Asia's self-described "most respected drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre," on drugs use in Japan:
In 2010, the government of Japan estimated that there were at least 2.76 million Japanese who had used illegal drugs. Although this is only about 2.9 percent of the population, for a country that had relatively no drug problem only 15 years ago, this is a huge increase. Most of Japan's drug users are men and women who are in their twenties and many have claimed to first try drugs while backpacking in countries like India.
Meanwhile in America, the bath salt moral panic led to new vigor in banning and "controlling" yet more substances by the feds. Earlier this month in Idaho, authorities seized $ 2 million worth of one synthetic marijuana, Spice. Bonus: that drug, now banned in Japan and the U.S., was created with the help of the feds.