China’s Cannabis Conundrum

China blames the U.S., Canada, for its rising cannabis use . . .

In a public statement on Monday, the deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, Liu Yuejin, blamed the opening of cannabis laws in some U.S. states and Canada’s recent cannabis legalization for a new spike in cannabis users in China. As of 2018, the purported number of users in the Middle Kingdom rose to 24,000 people, a 25 per cent increase over the previous year. Liu went on to say that the majority of suspects interrogated were foreign students or students who had worked or studied abroad. China, along with South Korea and Japan, issued statements in late 2018 urging their citizens in Canada to avoid using the substance in order to ensure their physical and mental health.

Smoking out offenders . . .

There have been reports of surprise mandatory drug tests at bars and restaurants in China targeting expat communities. Anecdotal accounts include police visiting homes in Beijing demanding samples for drug testing. Coverage of drug enforcement scandals in China report uneven treatment; where Chinese citizens can be given jail terms, foreign nationals receive sanctions ranging from no punishment to deportation.

Green Growth?

As Canada continues to develop its cannabis economy, it remains to be seen whether or how alleged illegal cannabis exports to China will figure in upcoming bilateral discussions. As Liu said in his statement earlier this week, this “new threat to China” throws another curve ball into an already tense relationship.