Prosecutors from Nanjing, China are blaming overseas influence over the growing number of marijuana abuse cases in the country calling it a “serious problem” for young people.
In the statement released by the Nanjing People’s Procuratorate last week, officials said “Young people studying abroad are more vulnerable to Western subcultures,” according to South China Morning Post.
Nanjing prosecutors said that they had already handled 10 drug smuggling cases since 2017, seven of which involves marijuana.
A university student was arrested in one drug smuggling case that involved marijuana in September 2017. In their report, authorities said that they caught three young men buying marijuana from the student, identified as Song. The student had mailed cannabis-infused edibles via international mail.
He was arrested when anti-narcotics officers detected marijuana in a parcel at customs in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province and Song was sentenced to 39 months in jail for drug trafficking.
As for the three men, they told authorities that they started smoking marijuana when they were still studying overseas, however, they continued the habit when they returned to China in 2016. All three faced drug use charges; one of them was jailed for three years while sentences for the other two remain unclear.
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In most of the cases that the prosecutors have seen in recent years, the method of obtaining and dealing with marijuana were similar. Most of them deal and buy the product online and have it shipped to China from other parts of the world.
“The negotiations, payment and delivery of the drugs is relatively fragmented and concealed, which presents a big challenge in the fight against drug trafficking,” Nanjing prosecutors said.
A report last month claimed more than 24,000 Chinese citizens used marijuana last year, 25.1% more than the statistics gathered in 2017, according to SCMP.
The National Narcotics Control Commission claimed in its report that drug abuse among those in the entertainment industry, people who had returned from overseas studies, and foreigners living in China was on the rise.
As for the cause of this sudden rise, the commission blames the legalization for recreational and medical use of marijuana in the United States and in Canada.
“There has been an obvious spike in marijuana smuggling from North America and this has created a new challenge for narcotics control in China,” the commission said in a statement.
On a more nationwide scale, Chinese police have handled 125 drug smuggling cases last year and they have seized a total of 55 kilograms (121 pounds) of marijuana that had been sent through the post from overseas. Suspects from the cases, meanwhile, are said to be mainly those who had returned to China from their study or work abroad. But there are also suspects that are foreign students living in China.
Aside from the plant itself, some young Chinese have had also smuggled marijuana seeds into China from their trip abroad and had grown their own plants. Just this January, customs officers were able to track the receiver of a parcel that was sent from Los Angeles that was marked as “toys.”
Authorities discovered that the receiver of the package, only identified as a student, had been growing marijuana plants inside his flat. While speaking to China National Radio, the student admitted that he became addicted to marijuana while living in Canada and that he had decided to grow his own for personal use.
People who were caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana will only face detention for up to 15 days, but those who cultivate more than 500 and not less than 3,000 marijuana plants can face five years of jail time. Possession of the recreational drug, possibly more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of hash oil, more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of hashish, or more than 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of marijuana can look at a prison sentence of at least seven years.
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