I'd say attitudes about drugs in Eastern Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan) are pretty conservative. Rules are pretty strict and one could find themselves in jail for a number of years for just a small amount of marijuana. In most of Eastern Asia marijuana will be grouped along with other hardcore drugs like: cocaine, heroine, amphetamines, etc. This post will focus on attitudes around one drug in particular, marijuana and hashish. For most of us this drug is not considered to be very dangerous.

For those of you who think otherwise. Marijuana is far less harmful and addictive than alcohol or nicotine. If you don't believe that then do a little Googling. In the USA marijuana for recreational use was just made legal in Colorado and Washington. While it's still considered illegal in other states it is still used by many people and each state has different laws regarding it's use. For example, in Vermont, if you get caught with a small amount of marijuana it will likely just get confiscated and there will be no fine.

Medical marijuana is also allowed in 18 states and in Canada it is legal for medical and industrial use. In much of Europe it's use is decriminalized and coffee shops sell it in Amsterdam. However, let's get back to Asia.

The average Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Taiwanese will shun it and look upon marijuana use as a very criminal activity. There are differences though in my experience, between China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan.


I remember the application for my visa to enter Taiwan. On the bottom it said, "DRUG TRAFFICKING IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH." So I suspect that would perhaps scare a few people away from Taiwan. I didn't find it as conservative as Korea though and I knew of both Taiwanese and foreigners who smoked it there. However, the average Taiwanese will tend to think of it as a very bad thing to do.


Korea has very strict laws and is perhaps the strictest place in Eastern Asia. I never saw it there as it is not common, but I have heard that some people have. However, if you are thinking of lighting up in Korea you might want to read Brother One Cell. It's a story about a young American male who got caught with hashish and spent more than three years in a Korean jail.

I do think the strict laws are a bit ironic though as binge drinking is such a national past time in Korea.


While I'd still say it's pretty conservative I'd have to say it was pretty different to me when I first went to Shanghai after living in Korea for a few years. I went to a famous bar there called "The Shelter" where a lot of big name foreign DJ's play. And the funny thing was that people were smoking hashish in the bar!

I mean here I was in communist China and people are smoking hash in the bar. And it's not only there, if you take a walk down the famous Nanjing Rd you'll get all kinds of offers (if you're not Asian looking). Offers from prostitutes, vendors, scams and people selling hashish and other drugs. Although this is in Shanghai which is home to many foreigners and for the most part an exception in China. Although...

There is Yunnan, China where marijuana grows naturally. According to my Chinese friends attitudes surrounding marijuana use here are pretty lax. Apparently hemp is still cultivated for industrial use and some of the locals sell marijuana to the tourists.


From what I understand laws are pretty conservative and you could land yourself in jail for possession and/or get deported. I wasn't there long enough to find out about these sorts of things. However, you can check out what Gimmeabreakman has to say.

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