Synthethic Drugs Also Concern Chinese Officials

The Xinhua news agency reported June 26 there were 69,244 drug-related criminal trials in the country's courts last year and a rising number of cases involve synthetic drugs.

The problem of synthetic drugs that has greatly concerned drug testing experts in the United States, causing some states and Congress to take steps this month to list some of them as schedule 1 drugs, is also worrying officials in China. The Xinhua news agency reported that Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu gave a speech at a legislative session held June 26 –- it was this year's International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking –- in which he said cases involving methamphetamine and synthetic drugs are increasing. The article says there were 69,244 drug-related criminal trials in the country's courts last year, a number that represents an almost 80 percent increase since 2007, according to a spokesman for the Supreme People's Court who is quoted in the English-language article.

Meng reported seizures of heroin and methamphetamine rose significantly last year. He said the country has about 1.19 million registered heroin addicts and 655,000 Chinese people use synthetic drugs or stimulants. In addition, he said about 922,000 Chinese participated in compulsory isolation for drug rehabilitation during the past four years, Xinhua reported.

Speaking June 26 before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Yury Fedotov, executive director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), released the office's 2012 World Drug Report. It estimates about 230 million people, or 5 percent of the world's population ages 15 to 64, used an illicit drug at least once in 2010. The world's total of problem drug users, mainly heroin- and cocaine-dependent people, numbers 27 million, according to the report.

"Heroin, cocaine, and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, shattering families and bringing misery to thousands of other people, insecurity, and the spread of HIV," Fedotov said. "The public health aspects of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration all have to be recognized as key elements in the global strategy to reduce drug demand."

The report cites non-medical use of prescription drugs and the use of synthetic drugs as significant problems on several continents.

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