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3 Asian Nations Warn Citizens Not to Use Cannabis in Canada

October 30, 2018
A depiction of a cannabis bud hangs from the ceiling as a band plays at Leafly's countdown party in Toronto, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, as they prepare to mark the legalization of cannabis across Canada. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
BEIJING (AP) — Marijuana may be legal now in Canada, but at least three Asian governments are warning their citizens to avoid it, including the specter of possible arrest for Japanese and South Koreans.

China, the latest to weigh in, didn’t go that far. Its consulate in Toronto issued a statement dated Friday reminding Chinese in its jurisdiction — and students in particular — “to avoid contact with and use of marijuana for the sake of ensuring your own physical and mental health.”

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Canada legalized the sale of recreational marijuana on Oct. 17.

The Chinese statement, posted on the consulate’s website, included a long explanation of the Canadian and provincial laws, advising them to read it carefully to avoid running afoul of the new regulations.

Both Japan and South Korea warned their citizens in Canada ahead of the legalization.

The Japanese consulate in Vancouver warned on its website that Japanese laws outlawing the possession and sale of marijuana may be applied to actions taken abroad.

“Japanese residents and travelers should take ample care to stay away from marijuana, including food and beverages that include marijuana,” the statement read in part.

South Korea held information sessions in Canada and used a government website and TV broadcasts to lay down the law for its citizens.

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Koreans Could Face Criminal Charges for Using Cannabis in Canada

“Even in a place where marijuana is legalized, if our citizens smoke, purchase, possess or deliver marijuana, it’s a criminal act, so they will be punished,” the embassy in Canada tweeted. “Please be careful.”

Neither statement from Japan and South Korea explained how they might attempt to enforce their laws against smoking marijuana while abroad. Police and customs officials in South Korea did not answer calls seeking comment.

Both South Korea and Japan have very strict anti-drug laws. In Korea, smoking, buying, possessing or delivering marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 50 million won ($44,000).

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  • Alan McLemore

    Note to self: Avoid Japan, S. Korea and China.

  • Rob Woodside

    Prosecuting dope “crimes” in foreign jurisdictions is real Reefer Madness!!! THe Nazis are alive and well in Japan and Korea

    • Roy Wilson

      Agreed completely

  • 24 Hour Man

    Just another reason to BUY AMERICAN

  • MV 1967

    Japan in particular could use some tax dollars from legal Cannabis. Get with it Asia! The emperor wears no clothes.

  • Dmember

    Too bad the article didn’t really answer it’s own question of “why” Japan outlaw (and others) outlaw Cannabis. To say they should avoid it for the sake of their mental and physical health is simply nothing new. We need more info.

  • Robert McManus

    You know, it’s funny about South Korea, because I was at the Korean Folk Village near Suwon, South Korea in the mid-90’s where I observed a garden full of cannabis plants. When I went to inspect them, I was chased off by the person who I assumed was the gardener. I’m not that familiar with South Korean law, but there must be some provision for folk uses…or perhaps it was just a demonstration of growing hemp for fiber production. But why, then, did the gentleman get so bent out of shape with me instead of using it as a teachable moment? I also noticed drug dogs all over me upon my return to the US from Korea, and I was wondering if there was any reason for that other than my beard and relatively young age.
    I really don’t know how anyone could easily check the cannabis consumption of their citizens abroad other than taking hair, urine and/or blood samples from likely subjects that have travelled abroad. That seems rather draconian. But governments seem intent on keeping their citizens toeing the line, no matter how random, insignificant and totalitarian that line may be.

  • 24 Hour Man

    Japan: Alcohol, beer , wine whisky all OK. Cannabis? no no no no no….what a country of HYPOCRITES