World

3 Asian countries urge citizens not to use marijuana in Canada

Marijuana may be legal now in Canada, but at least three Asian governments are warning their citizens to avoid pot, with people from Japan and South Korea facing possible arrest.

South Korea, Japan warn of possible arrests for cannabis use abroad

China became the latest Asian country to issue a warning to its citizens, on Tuesday, against the use of marijuana while in Canada. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Marijuana may be legal now in Canada, but at least three Asian governments are warning their citizens to avoid pot, with people from Japan and South Korea facing possible arrest.

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."

Canada legalized 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 said on its website that Japanese laws outlawing the possession and sale of marijuana may be applied to actions taken abroad.

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

Enforcement unclear

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

"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 in Korean. "Please be careful."

Neither statement from Japan or 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 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 $58,000.

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