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Using Illegal Drug Increases Among White-collar Workers

Executives, college students, actors and public servants have joined jobless youngsters in abusing drugs, police revealed yesterday.

Users of "new types of drugs" and related crime have been on the rise in recent years despite a series of campaigns, the Ministry of Public Security warned.

In the first seven months of the year, police confiscated 2.2 tons of methamphetamine (also known as Ice) and more than 370,000 tablets of ecstasy, 9.5 percent and 54 percent respectively higher than the same period last year, ministry spokesman Wu Heping said at a press conference.

"That indicates the number of users of new types of drugs, such as ice, ecstasy and ketamine, has been increasing," Wu said. "So have the number of crimes that combine manufacture, sale and consumption of drugs as a whole."

Reports say the sale and use of new drugs is increasingly evident in nightclubs, bars, karaoke lounges and similar venues.

Ministry statistics show there were 790,000 registered drug users at the end of last year, but the actual number is believed to be far higher.

Liu Yuejin, vice-director of the ministry's Narcotic Control Bureau, said 9.5 percent of registered addicts consume "new drugs," also called chemical or lab drugs.

At yesterday's conference, the ministry also publicized a series of cases that have been cracked by police since January.

For example, Jilin Pharmacy Co Ltd in Northeast China's Jilin Province was found to be illegally selling triazolam, a prescription drug for mental diseases, in bulk.

From March 1 to May 27, the company sold 1.514 million tablets of triazolam and raked in 167,000 yuan (US$20,600) in profit, reports said.

Four suspects have been arrested and 947,000 tablets recovered, Liu said.

Police and the local food and drug administration confiscated the illicit income, fined the company 1.67 million yuan (US$206,000), and ordered it to stop production, according to reports.

The abuse of triazolam, usually prescribed as a short-term remedy for insomnia, can lead to hypnosis or abrupt fainting, said Gu Weiping, an official with the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

Starting from March 1, triazolam has been listed by the SFDA as a Class A mental-illness drug, with rigid controls on production, sale and consumption, said Gu.

New regulations on narcotics and mental-illness drugs will come into force on November 1, said the official.

At the same time, a nation-wide campaign against "new drugs" used in entertainment venues was launched this month and will run until November, according to the ministry.

(China Daily September 21, 2005)

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