The number of marijuana offenders under the age of 20 increased 34% to 1,222 last year, marking a record high, according to National Police Agency data released Thursday.

The figure for cannabis cases involving those under age 20 had decreased for the first time in nine years in 2022.

By age, the number of suspects sharply increased after 16 and remained high until around 20, after which it began to decline.

"In addition to the lack of awareness surrounding the harmfulness of drugs, they are now becoming easier to obtain,” the National Police Agency said.

The agency also said that it will focus its efforts on publicizing and educating high school students about the dangers of marijuana.

The revised Cannabis Control Act, enacted last year, prohibits the personal use of marijuana, which had not previously been regulated. The revision also saw the tightening of the severity of punishment for possession, in light of the increasing number of arrests for marijuana possession, especially among young people.

Translated by The Japan Times