Input: Yu Pin
Source: China Daily editorial
In a move to counter the sharp increases in the abuse and production of synthetic drugs, the Chinese government has added another 32 new psychoactive substances including 4-chlorophenyl to a national control list, bringing the total number of such substances under strict government control to 170, the Office of the National Narcotics Control Committee said on Wednesday.
This reflects China's resolve to play its due part in the global fight against illegal drugs, as the expanded list now covers not only psychoactive substances that are under control internationally and widely abused in China, but also those that are produced in China but abused in other countries such as the United States.
The rapidly emerging psychoactive substances, which are produced in labs with chemicals, can be many times more potent than traditional illegal drugs such as heroin. Yet due to loopholes in the existing anti-drug laws, they can often be readily available for purchase because they are still to be classified as illegal drugs. Even when banned, manufacturers can change the formulas to keep them a step ahead of laws that ban the products based on their chemical composition.
Although China has made great progress in its anti-drug campaign in recent years - it has seized 459 tons of drugs and arrested 1 million suspects in 860,000 drug-related cases over the past five years - it still lacks experience in dealing with the new class of drugs because of their huge diversity. The development of new psychoactive drugs is so fast that authorities have to struggle to keep up their list of controlled substances.
Thus, it is imperative for countries to coordinate their anti-drug efforts so that they can share their clues on cross-border cases or identify and track the emergence of novel drugs more effectively. Information sharing between Chinese and US narcotics law enforcement officials since last year has led to the cracking of the first case involving fentanyl class substances between the two countries, with 21 suspects arrested. Such substances are not widely abused in China but are quite popular in the US.
The expansion of the international synthetic drugs market including that for new psychoactive substances is a new phenomenon yet it poses a huge health risk to people around the world, given there is still limited awareness about their dangers. The latest move by China will serve as a shot in the arm for the international fight against drugs.