Legalized use of marijuana in Canada, US threatens China’s drug control
Overseas legalized use threatens China’s drug control mechanism
Published: Jun 17, 2019 12:29 PM

Some Chinese marijuana users make food with the drug which can induce a similar high to smoking it. Photo: IC

Marijuana smuggled from North America to China has increased after Canada and some US states legalized it, creating a new threat to China's drug control efforts, a senior drug control official said on Monday.

China's National Narcotics Control Commission (CNNCC) issued a work report on China's drug control situation in 2018, which said smuggling cases have increased after Canada legalized recreational use of marijuana and the majority of US states legalized its use for medical purposes. 

China detected 125 cases and confiscated 55 kilograms of marijuana and related products from packages entering China through South China's Guangzhou Province, Shanghai  and Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, last year, the report said. 

Before 2012, the number of drug smuggling cases from North America busted by the China's custom authorities was less than 10 every year.

Liu Yuejin, deputy director of CNNCC, noted the increasing trend of seizing marijuana and arresting suspects.

Marijuana use is rare in China but  more common in North America. Increasing social and cultural exchanges between the two sides see many people come to China to study or work; many among them are marijuana users, Liu noted. 

Smuggling suspects are mainly foreign students in China and those who had studied or worked overseas. They purchased marijuana over the internet from overseas dealers and receive them through international postal services, the report said. 

Since China does not have a marijuana chain, the users introduced such a chain to meet their needs, Liu said. 

In 2018, 2.4 million Chinese people were on drugs, a decline for the first time in years. However, marijuana abusers in China reached 24,000 at the end of 2018, up 25.1 percent year-on-year, the report said. 

US media have claimed that China is a cannabis superpower that holds over half of the world's legal commercial cropland under hemp cannabis cultivation. 

Hua Zhendong, the technical director of CNNCC's National Narcotics Laboratory, noted that hemp approved for growth in China has a low psychoactive component rate and are therefore rarely developed into an illicit drug. 

Cannabis planting and processing are strictly managed in China. Only two provinces are allowed to have legal industrial cannabis cultivation and processing businesses. Cannabis is only allowed in fabrics and as seeds, and has never been approved for medical and food use, CNNCC said. 

The legalization of marijuana in some countries has hastened its global spread, challenging international drug control policies and complicated the drug control situation, the report said. 

China's drug making was effectively curbed and in 2018, 269 illegal drug-making plants were destroyed, down 15.5 percent year-on-year. But drugs smuggled into or transiting through China are a serious problem, such as cocaine from South America and heroin from the Golden Crescent. Globalization and information flow have turned drugs into a global problem, the report said.