Significance and Content of the Narcotics Control Law

Office of China National Narcotics Control Commission

June 25, 2008

The Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China, adopted at the 31st session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on December 29, 2007, entered into force as of June 1, 2008, As the first important and fundamental law to regulate and guide China's drug control efforts, it was drafted to cope with the current situation on drug-related crimes and meet the requirements of drug control work on the basis of years of experience in fighting illicit drugs, existing domestic and international law provisions and recommendations from different sources. Its adoption and enforcement testify the consistent and firm commitment of the Chinese government to improve China 's legal system to prevent and punish drug-related crimes, and are of profound significance to promoting China 's drug control cause in all aspects. It is considered as an important milestone in China 's drug control history.

The Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China, consisting of 7 chapters and 71 articles and following the principle of combining the strength of “professionals and the masses, preventive and punishment measures, education and social integration”, makes clarification on drug control policies, leading mechanism, working mechanism, logistics mechanism, and legal responsibilities; it also standardizes measures of drug preventive education, narcotics control, drug treatment and rehabilitation as well as international cooperation. It has the following six main aspects:

I. Provisions on leading mechanism, working mechanism and guarantee mechanism for narcotics control. According to the Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China , the State Council establishes China National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), which shall take charge of organizing, coordinating and guiding the drug control efforts of the whole nation. Local governments at or above the county level may, in light of the local needs, establish narcotics control committees which organize, coordinate and guide the drug control efforts of their respective administrative areas. It defines the legal status and responsibilities of the narcotics control committees, and establishes the leading mechanism for drug control. The law also prescribes drug control as the common responsibility of the whole society, in pursuant to which all government organs, social groups, enterprises and institutions as well as other organizations and citizens shall fulfill their responsibilities and obligations. It specifies the working mechanism for drug control that features “central leadership of the government, clear responsibilities of relevant departments and extensive participation of all walks of life”. The law also prescribes that local governments at or above the county level shall place drug control as an important part of their economic and social development plan and include drug control expenses into local governmental budget. Legal guarantee mechanism for the drug control work is also specified in the law.

II. Provisions on the guidelines of “giving priority to prevention, practicing comprehensive drug control, and banning the cultivation, production, traffic and abuse of drugs simultaneously”. The guideline stresses the role of preventive education as the key of drug control work, the comprehensive drug control model that leverages various means as well as simultaneous efforts in banning the cultivation, production, traffic and abuse of drugs. It is in line with the development rules of drug problems, China 's social and economic reality as well as the comprehensive and balanced international drug control strategy. Regarding drug control publicity, the Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China emphasizes that the state shall take various forms to conduct drug control publicity and education for all the people, popularize knowledge about drug prevention, promote drug control civil awareness and enhance the capability to resist the temptation of drugs. It defines the legal liabilities of government organs, social groups, enterprises and institutions, relevant organizations as well as schools, parents and guardians in conducting drug control publicity and education for different target groups.

III. Provisions on the types, scope, measures and methods for the administration of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals. According to the Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China , the state controls narcotic drugs, psychotropic drugs and narcotics plants, and adopts the licensing, examination and inspection systems for the experimental research, manufacture, delivery, use, storage and transportation of such drugs. The state also establishes licensing system for the manufacture, trade and shipment of precursor chemicals as well as the import and export of narcotic drugs, psychotropic drugs and precursor chemicals. Besides, the law also contains provisions on drug law enforcement activities of the public security organs or other administrative organs, drug proceeds monitoring mechanism, entertainment place inspection tour system as well as collection of drug control intelligence and information.

IV. Provisions on drug treatment and rehabilitation mechanism and measures. The Narcotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China conducts significant reforms on the mechanism of drug treatment and rehabilitation in accordance with the human-centered principle. It indicates that drug abusers are patients, lawbreakers as well as victims, thus they should not only be punished, but also educated and integrated into the society. The law requires the state to take various measures to educate and help drug abusers to get rid of their addiction. The new law abolishes models of compulsory and re-education-through-labor treatment and integrates the two systems into the compulsory isolated drug treatment. It classifies community drug treatment, community rehabilitation, voluntary drug treatment, and drug maintenance treatment as well as includes new content such as drug treatment and rehabilitation places. Firstly, these reforms are in line with scientific principles and time requirements about drug treatment, guarantee legally the three necessary stages in drug treatment, namely physical detoxification, mental rehabilitation and social integration. The law improves the drug treatment and rehabilitation system and offers legal support for the development of the treatment and rehabilitation model integrating physical detoxification, mental rehabilitation and social integration. Secondly, the relevant provisions meet the needs of necessary treatment period by prolonging the legal drug treatment period. They prescribes that the period of community treatment should not exceed three years, that of compulsory isolated treatment should not exceed two years and can be extended by one more year if the abuser fails to give up their addiction at the end of the two-year period. In particular, the law expands the definition of the legal drug treatment period to cover community treatment and rehabilitation, which will help drug addicts get rid of their addiction and consolidate their achievement. Thirdly, the law prescribes that community drug treatment, compulsory isolated drug treatment and community rehabilitation should be closely linked to each other in order to put drug addicts under constant restriction of legal drug treatment measures. Compulsory isolated drug treatment can be practiced on those addicts who refuse to undergo community treatment, seriously violate community treatment agreements or get out of control, no matter they are abusing drugs or not. These regulations ensure effective management of drug addicts and will help solve the problem that some drug abusers relapse time and again after treatments or getting out of control. Fourthly, it defines pattern of drug treatment work, which features government leadership, coordination between departments and widespread participation of the whole society. It also contains provisions on the drug treatment work of residents' committees in urban areas, the people's governments, public security organs, law enforcement organs, administrative organs, health administrative organs, civil administrative organs, human resource organs and labor security organs of villages or towns, enterprises, institutions, families of drug abusers, social workers, drug control volunteers and other social forces, which will provide firm legal support for the implementation of drug treatment measures.

V. Provisions on measures to deepen international drug control cooperation. The law devotes a whole chapter to legalizing the international cooperation liability specified in drug control international conventions, prescribing that international drug control cooperation should be carried out in accordance with ratified international conventions or the principle of equality. Authorized by the State Council, China National Narcotics Control Commission is responsible for organizing and carrying out international drug control cooperation and fulfilling liabilities specified in international drug control conventions. Related departments of the State Council should strengthen the share of drug control intelligence and information with law enforcement organs of other relevant countries or regions as well as international organizations and carry out drug enforcement cooperation. With authorization of the State Council, they can also support related countries to conduct alternative development. For the first time, “sharing seized drug proceeds with other countries” was written into a law.

VI. Provisions on legal liabilities for violating the Nacotics Control Law of the People's Republic of China and related laws and regulations.