Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cannabis Seeds, Internet Sales, and The Law

"A loophole in the drug laws has allowed a growing number of people to buy marijuana seeds on the Internet for cultivation.

"Last year, police confirmed 184 incidents of growing marijuana plants, more than four times the figure 10 years ago, according to the National Police Agency (NPA).

"The Cannabis Control Law bans people from growing marijuana plants, but has no clause outlawing the possession of seeds.

""It's possible for anyone to sell and buy marijuana seeds on the Internet without disclosing their identities. We fear that the number of businesses that sell such seeds will increase," a spokesman for Tokyo Customs said.

"Most of the Web sites that sell marijuana seeds correctly declare that possessing seeds is not illegal in itself. However, some warn that customers can possess marijuana seeds only for "ornamental purposes", and that those who possess seeds should prevent germination. However, many also sell instruction manuals on how to grow marijuana plants.

"Two former members of Kanto Gakuin University' s rugby club arrested last November for marijuana possession had bought seeds on the Internet, and grown the plants at their dormitory.

"The import of heat-treated seeds, which prevents germination, is permitted under the Customs Law as they are used in some spices and bird feed. About 1,000 tons of heat-treated marijuana seeds are imported from China and Canada each year.

"But following of a spate of incidents in which a large number of people have been arrested for growing marijuana plants, the Finance Ministry instructed customs offices across the country in January to crack down on those who are smuggling marijuana seeds that have not been heat-treated.

"Earlier this month, customs officers for the first time invoked the Customs Law clause banning imports of untreated marijuana seeds to apprehend a couple who attempted to smuggle 1,000 marijuana seeds from the Netherlands into Japan through Central Japan International Airport near Nagoya.

"However, customs officers pointed out that it is extremely difficult to distinguish between treated and untreated seeds."

By Mainichi Shimbun (4/12/2008), Link to article (last visited 4/12/2008)

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