China enacts first anti-drug law

By Xinhua

Beijing : Chinese lawmakers Saturday enacted the country’s first anti-drug law in an effort to contain drug-related crimes and curb the growing number of addicts, mainly the young.

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The number of drug users in China has grown by 35 percent in the past five years. The country has more than 700,000 drug addicts, of which 69 percent are under 35 years of age. In 2005 the country had 1.16 million drug users, according to a police estimate.

According to the law, the owners and managers of discos, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues will be required to inform the police about drug users, failing which they will be punished.

The law also empowers the police to search people and luggage for illegal drugs in railway and bus stations and at border crossings.

The law also provides that drug addicts should be allowed to recover in their communities for three years, rather than being confined to rehabilitation centres that the previous law stipulated.

“Minors under the age of 16, and pregnant women are not appropriate for compulsive isolated drug rehabilitation.”

Lawmakers said it was imperative to introduce the anti-drug law to crack down on drug-related crimes, protect public health and maintain the social order.

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.

The banned drugs include opium, heroin, morphine, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine hydrochloride, also commonly known as “ice”.

The law also stipulates the police to share information with other countries and international organisations and enhance collaboration to investigate drug-related crimes.

The law will take into effect on June 1, was enacted at the weeklong session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature.