Asia: China Set to Adopt Anti-Drug Law

China's National People's Congress is set to pass that country's first anti-drug law to curb drug use and trafficking. Currently, drug offenses are handled under China's general criminal law.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/chinese_anti_drug_poster.jpg
Chinese anti-drug poster
The Congress this week is studying a third draft of the law after its Law Committee announced Sunday the law was "ready for adoption." If passed in its current form, the drug law would mark a step forward for China's estimated 1.16 million registered drug users. Current regulations require drug users to be confined in rehabilitation centers, but under the new law, many would be able to undergo treatment in their communities.

The law would also exclude minors under 16 and pregnant or breastfeeding women from compulsory isolated drug rehabilitation, although this provision was controversial. Some lawmakers argued that youthful drug offenders could receive treatment designed especially for them in an isolated environment.

"If some parents are unable to help their addicted children rehabilitate, and community corrections have proved ineffective as well, then young addicts should receive isolated compulsive drug-rehab," they argued.

Among the drugs banned in the new drug law are opium, heroin, morphine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine. The law also sets strict rules on the clinical use of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and medicines that could be used to make illegal narcotics, such as methadone and ephedrine.

China's opium trade was virtually wiped out after the Communist Party took power in 1949 -- an historically unique event -- after the party combated it using the same draconian repression with which it attacked Chinese society as a whole. Like prostitution and other perceived Western vices, however, opium has staged a comeback in China in the wake of economic reforms over the past three decades. The Chinese government reports that the number of registered drug users had increased by a whopping 35% between 2000 and 2005.

It is unclear what criminal sanctions the new law contains. Under current Chinese law, drug trafficking can merit sentences as severe as death. Some 50,000 people were arrested on drug trafficking charges last year.

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