For only the second time in the history of their nation, the People’s Republic of China has announced a total ban on a whole class of drugs; specifically forbidding the manufacturing, sale, possession and usage of synthetic cannabinoids. The first time that China declared a class of drugs to be banned was in 2019, when they banned the fentanyl family of drugs. Chinese drug criminalization has been particularly draconian, and they regularly execute prisoners for drug and trafficking related offenses.
China’s New Drug War
Not stopping with synthetic cannabinoids, the Chinese government has announced that 18 additional psychoactive drugs will be banned, beginning July 1st. One particular concern cited for banning synthetic cannabinoids is that, in spite of the implication from the name, synthetics are not merely benign artificial copies. They have been known to have multiple side effects, some of which can even be fatal to their users, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States has also stated that they believe that China is a chief source of synthetic cannabinoids, and this too may affect the Chinese Government’s decision to enact a blanket ban.
Synthetic Cannabinoids Within China
In 2020, the Shangdong police discovered a wide production and distribution network dedicated to synthetic cannabinoids. This network stretched across 13 provinces and reached into dozens of separate cities, and uncovering it led to the State taking 800 pounds of the drugs as evidence. The deputy of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, Ding Ming, has been quoted as saying that “The problem of new psychoactive substances has been fierce, posing severe challenges to the narcotics control work of all countries and the world. It is also a new situation and new problem and new challenge to China”. Around 1050 new types of psychoactive drugs were catalogued as of 2020, at least 450 of which had emerged since 2015.
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