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Japan drug law among world’s toughest, personal possession attracts five-year jail

MUMBAI: Like in many southeast Asian countries, Japan’s laws against drugs are among the toughest in the world, and even possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use attracts up to five-year jail term. The laws are strict in some South and Central American nations too, say experts.

In a small relief, the Judiciary in Japan, said a newspaper there, has, in the last last couple of years, expanded its use of suspended sentences to drug related crimes to ensure rehabilitation is sought by the offender. It’s unthinkable to use drugs in public place in Japan, just as in China, Malaysia and Singapore. In China, possession of drug for personal consumption can also end with a trip to a government run rehabilitation centre, while in Malaysia anyone caught with drug faces fine, jail or even deportation. The laws are tougher in Singapore where drug peddling attracts execution.

While the most common drug charge involves possession of a controlled substance, it requires the accused to have “knowingly and intentionally possessed” and in small quantity prescribed by law for “personal use”. Drug possession accounts for over 80 percent of all drug-related arrests in the United States, according to the Department of Justice.

In India, the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act provides for one-year jail for “small quantity” of drugs. Small quantity is one which is not for sale. The law defines commercial quantity of hashish or Charas, for instance, as 1 kg and the small quantity as “100 gms’’. The punishment for ‘more than small but less than commercial quantity is up to 10 years jail and for commercial quantity it is 20 years’ jail.

In Canada, an adult caught with 30 grams or more of cannabis can face up to 5 years in prison. The term can go up to 14 years for sale and distribution. In England and Wales, several drug offences including possession for sale attracts imprisonment for up to 12 months.

In the US , the Federal Law makes drug possession punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine for first offence—10 states have legalized recreational marijuana. In New York, marijuana possession was decriminalized in 1977 and medical marijuana has been legal since 2014. In five states—Alaska, Colorado, Washington DC, Oregon, and Washington–adults possessing small amount is not illegal. But as legal website Nolo says, “Many states allow diversion for first-time offenders charged with simple possession of illegal drugs. Diversion allows offenders to maintain a clean criminal record by pleading guilty and then completing a prescribed substance abuse program and not committing additional offenses.’’ The diversionary period is usually 18 months. In India, a first time offender claiming personal consumption, can also escape conviction by being sent to a government run rehabilitation programme. For repeat offenders there is no immunity offers.

News credit : Indiatimes