In one case, customs officials intercepted a parcel with a little more than 113 grams of weed and less than five grams of cannabis liquid.

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Three U.S. marines based in Okinawa, Japan recently indicted for allegedly trying to smuggle cannabis into the country through the mail could face a decade in prison and hard labour, according to a report by Stars and Stripes.

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Japan is notoriously strict about drugs and smuggling, with information from Japan Customs making the country’s approach crystal clear. “Drug smuggling is a serious crime. Violators will be severely punished, regardless of who will use the drug as well as its amount. Don’t even think about bringing drugs to Japan,” the advisory states.

Substances that are not welcome include, but are not limited to, stimulants like amphetamines and methamphetamines, cannabis, hemp, cocaine, heroin and MDMA.

According to Vice, under the country’s Cannabis Control Act, beyond hefty fines, just possessing cannabis could result in a five-year jail sentence; seven years if there is a suspected intent to profit. Sentences and fines are even higher for those convicted of growing, importing or exporting weed.

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And it doesn’t appear that Japan is inclined to change its approach anytime soon. Per the New York Times, “As most other major economies liberalize their laws on marijuana amid growing evidence of its medical benefits, Japan has doubled down on its hard-line position toward the drug, ramping up arrests and increasing efforts to battle the influx of marijuana-friendly information from abroad.”

Indeed, per Sora News 24, a U.S. English teacher was busted earlier this year for smuggling cannabis oil inside hair treatment bottles. Also in 2021, a 23-year-old firefighter in Tokyo was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana.

With regard to the latest case involving the marines, the Mainichi reports that, in all, police have apprehended 12 people (including the marines) in Okinawa on suspicion of smuggling cannabis and cocaine into Japan via military postal services delivering to U.S. bases.

A spokesperson for Marine Corps Installations Pacific reportedly told Stars and Stripes, “Not only are such incidents violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they are also contrary to our core values.”

Stars and Stripes adds there were also two other recent cases involving people associated with the U.S. military in Okinawa, namely a civilian base employee who was sentenced to four years in prison for smuggling cocaine and an army member who got a suspended sentence for receiving powder containing MDMA.

Two of the marines involved in the latest case are scheduled to appear in court in mid-January, while the court date for the third marine has not yet been set.

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