Chinese drug laws: Police-controlled approach to drug abuse

Jinmei Meng

J. Meng, S. Burris. Beasley School of Law, Temple University, United States

Background: China has strict drug control laws. International studies have shown that excessive reliance of drug addiction treatment on law enforcement has adverse effects. However, very few existing studies in English adopt a drug law perspective to examine the role of Chinese police in the drug addiction treatment system.

Methods: We examined existing Chinese drug laws made by authorities at the central and local levels. We also identified Chinese drug laws as legislative documents introduced by legislative bodies and administrative authorities at the central and local levels.

Results: (1) Drug users shall be registered with police, and registered users shall be monitored by the police-administered real-time electronic online tracking system; (2) police have authority to require registered users or people suspected of using drugs to undertake testing of drug use; (3) police, not courts, are the only decision-making authority to subject users to police-intervened community drug treatment of 3 years, to police-administered compulsory detoxification of 2 years with a possible 1-year extension, and to police intervention community drug rehabilitation of up to 3 years after compulsory detoxification; (4) users must be approved by police before starting methadone maintenance treatment; and (5) drug addiction treatment institutions must be approved by police before operation and are obligated to report patients’ information to police.

Conclusions: China has adopted a police-controlled approach to drug addiction treatment. It should review the approach and adjust it to a public health-oriented response.

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