China: New Regulations on Narcotic and Psychotropic Drugs Take Effect

The Chinese State Council enacted new regulations on the control of narcotic and psychotropic drugs (Chinese State Council Order No 442, August 3, 2005) that went into effect from November 1, 2005. These new regulations, which replace the pre-existing Narcotics and Psychotropics Regulations, call for greater transparency and stricter penalties in the control of narcotic and psychotropic drugs in China.

The procedures, timelines, and responsibilities outlined in the new regulations are more clearly specified to be in accordance with the Administration Authorization Law, the new constitution that took effect in July 2004. The new Narcotics and Psychotropics Regulations also provide more detailed requirements for the distribution and storage of these drugs, as well as procedures for their approval and inspection. There have been some changes to the approval system for distributors’ licenses. In addition, the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) will now have control of the manufacturing of these drugs and will set annual production volumes. There are also more specific requirements for the transportation of narcotics and psychotropics, as well as harsher penalties for the illegal distribution of such drugs. In addition, local governments must also supervise more closely the use of these drugs.

The State Council also issued Regulations on the Administration of Precursor Chemicals in October 2005 that also took effect November 1. Precursor chemicals are chemical substances that can be used as ingredients for making narcotic and psychotropic drugs. These Regulations attempt to restrict the production, purchase, transport, import, and export of precursor chemicals. Tons of these precursor chemicals are smuggled into China each year, and it is hoped that cracking down will lessen the amount of drugs produced in China.

Abuse of man-made or synthetic narcotic and psychotropic drugs has been an explosive problem in China, leading the Chinese government to launch a “people’s war” against drugs. Public education campaigns and a police crackdown have led to tens of thousands of arrests for drug or drug-related crimes in the last nine months.