China has added 32 new psychoactive substances to its list of controlled substances to prevent them from being abused, the Ministry of Public Security said on Aug 30.
The additions bring the number of controlled substances in the country to 170, according to the ministry.
The new list takes effect on Sept 1.
Psychoactive substances can cause significant damage to the central nervous system and can even have similar or stronger effects than traditional drugs such as heroin and crystal methamphetamine, Deng Ming, deputy director of the ministry’s Narcotics Control Bureau, said at a news conference.
Considering the damage and a rising number of cases in which such substances have been found being abused, “the control of them has become more crucial”, Deng said.
Hua Zhendong, deputy director of the ministry’s drug testing laboratory, said the latest batch of new psychoactive substances, such as 4-CEC and 4-EMC, have frequently been found mixed with cigarettes, cookies or chocolate for delivery to users in entertainment venues in various regions.
“But a crackdown against them was difficult without a legal basis,” he said. “Police could only fine the users, producers and sellers or give them administrative detention.”
The new move will contribute to drug control, “as those seriously taking the substances or making related deals can be criminally punished”, Hua said.
Since 2017, police officers have destroyed four drug manufacturing plants, detained 53 suspects and confiscated 1,178 kilograms of new psychoactive substances, according to the ministry.
Police have also strengthened checks and information sharing with customs, and improved cooperation on drug abuse with other countries, it said.
Deng acknowledged that controlling the drugs is, and will remain, a big challenge, “as the types of new psychoactive substances frequently change, and trafficking and deal-making have become more secretive”.
For example, some offenders overseas were found making deals through instant messaging tools like Skype and then transferring money through underground banks, Deng said.