Two NHK Staffers Suspended for Smoking Synthetic Marijuana

Japan’s public broadcaster punishes the employees after it has run programs warning of the dangers of the legal highs.

TOKYO – Two NHK employees in their twenties were taken to hospital earlier this month having called an ambulance when they became delirious after smoking synthetic marijuana following a drinking session in Fukuoka City on the southern island of Kyushu. The synthetic drugs, which have similar effects to marijuana, are known as ‘dappo (law-evading) herb’ in Japan, where they have been hitting the headlines following a series of hospitalizations and traffic accidents blamed on their use.

“The two individuals, as employees of a public broadcaster, have been suspended without pay for a month as punishment,” an NHK spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.

The manufacture and sale of the drugs has become a cat-and-mouse game with authorities as fresh chemically altered compounds hit the market quicker than newly-banned versions are taken off the shelves.

NHK has been covering the phenomenon, including a program which featured interviews with a chemist who was producing the drugs, and experts explaining that the constantly changing nature of the compounds has led to substances with properties closer to amphetamines than marijuana appearing in some products.

"We apologize to our viewers. We will educate our staff to discipline themselves both at work and in their private lives,” according to a statement from the broadcaster which described the staffers’ behaviour as, "inappropriate at a time when NHK is warning about the danger of using such herbs."

 

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