Lack of seed law fueling cannabis-farming crimes

Kyodo

Police are seeing a rapid rise in illegal cannabis cultivation as the Internet makes it easier to get seeds and the government refuses to draft a law banning their possession, the health ministry said.

Cannabis-growing cases involving questioning, arrest or prosecution have jumped about fivefold over the past decade from 42 in 1997 to 192 in 2007, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Last month, police arrested a bureaucrat from the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry on suspicion he was growing cannabis in his apartment in Shiga Prefecture.

According to the local health ministry bureau, the man bought the cannabis seeds through the Internet.

The Cannabis Control Law bans possession or sale of the plant but does not cover Cannabis seeds, which are usually used as cooking spices or bird feed. The seeds do not have narcotic effects when ingested.

Cannabis sells for around ¥5,000 per gram. Seeds are available via import dealers and the Internet and cost about ¥1,000 per seed.

The ministry section in charge of narcotics says the number of young people smoking cannabis is increasing.