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Metropolises Redouble Effort Against Illegal Drugs
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The country's two largest cities have boosted their efforts to crack down on the use of illegal drugs as past efforts have shown limited success.

In Beijing, convicted drug takers will have to take compulsory urine tests to ensure they remain clean of illegal narcotics. In Shanghai, public entertainment venues will face suspensions of three to six months if illegal activities involving drugs take place on their premises.

The Beijing municipal drug control committee has announced that those who test positive will be ordered to seek treatment at community-based rehabilitation centers. They will also be assigned to a social worker who will monitor their progress in kicking their habits.

Committee deputy director Shi Dawei said the new, stricter measures are part of a campaign that will run until the end of the year to stop the spread of illicit drugs in the city.

"Drug takers who voluntarily decide to kick the habit should register their names with the police if they wish to have methadone treatment, and new treatment centers are to be built," Shi said, declining to give exact figures for the number of drug users in the capital or for the number of new methadone clinics to be added.

Beijing has been striving since last year to rid entertainment venues, such as karaoke rooms, public places and all communities of drugs, but with limited success.

In late May, city police launched a drive they are calling "Wind and Thunder Sweeping Narcotics".

Since then, police have broken up five major drug trafficking rings and arrested 47 people. They have also confiscated 3.3 kg of illegal drugs, plus a pistol, ammunition and some cash.

In Shanghai, the municipal drug control committee also issued a new regulation yesterday, pledging to target drug use in entertainment places such as pubs and discos.

Club-goers and managers have noticed an increasing number of people using illegal drugs such as ecstasy and crystal meth (methamphetamine) in recent years, the committee said.

"You can tell from their behavior. Their reaction to the drug is different from what happens under the influence of alcohol," Maya Huang, a staff member at Rojam Disco, told China Daily. "We know that many pubs and discos are involved in the trade of these drugs, though we are not."

Peter Pan (a pseudonym), a man who said he frequents pubs and occasionally sells illegal drugs, told China Daily that he believes drugs are common at pubs that play "good music" in Shanghai.

"Maybe 20 percent of these customers use them because they usually feel safer in these pubs," he said.

Such activities seem to go on without the consent from bar owners.

"We hang posters on the wall telling people not to use drugs, and our waiters come up and intervene if they see anyone using drugs in Rojam," Huang said. "But we can't search our guests or stop them from smuggling drugs into the disco."

The new regulation requires more testing equipment to be installed at ports and in regions where drugs are being trafficked in the hope of disrupting import channels and sales networks.

Inspections of pubs, karaoke bars and private clubs will also be carried out.

(China Daily September 19, 2007)


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