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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hallucinogens sold in vending machines legit?


YOKOHAMA — Vending machines may be ubiquitous, but one that is selling quasi-legal hallucinogens has raised the eyebrows of police and health authorities as they clamp down on the sale and use of such drugs.

News photo
High times: A vending machine in Yokohama boasts a sign that says it sells "legal herbs" in 0.5-gram doses. KYODO

Kanagawa police last week raided a self-proclaimed "general merchandise store" in Yokohama for allegedly selling herbs containing cannabislike ingredients like those in illegal drugs like marijuana and stimulants.

Vendors of quasi-legal hallucinogens take advantage of legal loopholes. Unless illegal ingredients are found in the drugs, police can only request that sales be restrained. Even if illegal substances are found, most vendors claim they are unaware of the fact, according to police.

In the Yokohama case, no one has been arrested since the house raid, but the shop reportedly shut off the vending machine.

Police believe there are more than 20 similar outlets in Kanagawa alone, and the existence of some 390 vendors have been confirmed nationwide.

Regardless of the legal status of such drugs, their health effects — even fatal in some cases — are rapidly causing a social problem, especially among youths.

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