Japan saw a record number of marijuana offences last year, according to police, amid a crackdown on pop stars, sumo wrestlers and other celebrities who have been caught with the drug.
Police arrested 2,778 people for marijuana-related crimes in 2008, 22.3 percent more than the previous year, even though other drug-related crimes dropped off slightly, the National Police Agency said.
AdvertisementAround nine out of 10 of those arrested were first-time offenders, and 60 percent were under 30.
Japan strictly prohibits both hard and soft drugs, and police have in recent months arrested sumo wrestlers, popular musicians and actors, as well as college students for posessing, growing or selling marijuana.
Police blamed easy access to marijuana on the Internet, an increase in home-grown cannabis and higher sales by organised crime groups, as well as a widespread attitude that marijuana is a soft drug.
Overall, police arrested 14,326 people for drug offences, down 3.1 percent.