Interestingly enough, just after I finished my series on drug rehabilitation in Japan, the news is out that a young man was smoking 脱法ハーブ (Dappo herb) "legal herb" and died in his apartment in Nagoya. It also seems that there is some confusion as to whether or not this Dappo Herb is legal or not. Shop owners have been circumventing the law by selling the herbs as "incense." It seems that if the shop owners tell the customers that they should smoke the herb, then that would be breaking the law.
This is confusing as, with, say Marijuana, Japanese law is specific; smoking marijuana is not illegal in Japan. Possession of marijuana is illegal. Possession precedes use. Makes sense. So, then why isn't possession of these laced herbs not illegal? It is just more on the madness of these laws... But more on that later.
This news has come to the forefront last night and today as, day before yesterday, a young man in Nagoya was alleged to have been smoking the Dappo Herb and then he died. It is not yet sure the reasons for his death but police suspect it has something to do with an overdose concerning Dappo Herb.
Here is a news story about the incident:
Quick explanation & translation:
The video talks about a 24-year-old guy named Miura, a restaurant employee, who was smoking this Dappo Herb with a friend and died on February 6th, 2012. The friend told police that they were smoking when Miura grew silent. Soon after, his friend checked him and Miura's body was cold. The police said they found the Dappo Herb in Muira's pocket along with a pipe. Many shops are selling Dappo Herb as "legal herbs" but this is not true. The police say they will start enforcing the law in a more vigorous manner.
The rise in popularity of Dappo Herb has gone from two shops selling it in Tokyo in 2009 to at least 89 this year.
Well, that's the news; and now the commentary:
That last paragraph of this quote from the Japan Times should demonstrate to anyone the futility of these sorts of laws prohibiting victimless crimes. There will always be new chemicals coming up that are outside the law. Will we keep expanding the laws forever and ever? We need less government in our lives, not more. It doesn't matter whether it is gambling, prostitution, or drug use, victimless crimes should be decriminalized.
It is true that this guy died in Nagoya but there is no proof that Dappo Herb caused his death. If he is stupid enough to be smoking some sort of chemical concoction that he doesn't even know what it is, then let him. There is no way to outlaw stupidity.
The government has no business passing laws on what people wish to put into their bodies. If people are stupid enough to want to huff airplane fuel, drive without a seat belt, drink until they kill themselves, or eat junk food all the time, will we pass laws making that illegal too? (Look at the idiocy in England whereby teapots must be labeled, "Sugar leads to diabetics." (sic))
This comes down to private property rights. The poor guy who died, as with you or me, are the owners of our own bodies. There is no one who has the right to tell us what we can and cannot consume. Guidelines are welcomed, but these draconian laws are a waste of taxpayers money.
Some will say that decriminalizing, say, heroin or cocaine will cause a boom in its use. That's total nonsense. Five years after decriminalizing many of these drugs, Portugal enjoyed seeing their use cut in half as reported by Forbes magazine. But you don't need to read Forbes to realize that decriminalizing drugs would not lead to a boom in their use... If heroin were decriminalized tomorrow, would you go out and start doing it; your friends or family? I didn't think so.