China has added four new psychoactive substances (NPS) substances to the controlled drug list, a move to combat the abuse of these drugs, most often referred to in the West as "legal highs."
China's Ministry of Public Security, Food and Drug Administration and National Health and Family Planning Commission added four substances, acrylfentanyl, carfentanyl, furanylfentanyl and valerylfentanyl into the supplementary list of controlled non-medical narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and the act takes effect on March 1, Deng Ming, deputy head of China's National Narcotic Control Commission (NNCCC) said at a news conference in Beijing Thursday.
All four substances have as a base ingredient fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid much more powerful than morphine. These new synthetic drugs have a similar or even stronger effect on human beings as other illegal drugs, the NNCCC said in information sent to the Global Times on Thursday.
Deng said during the conference that police have cracked down on eight illegal production bases and confiscated more than 800 kilograms of scheduled NPS and tons of non-scheduled NPS.
He admitted that it was extremely difficult to regulate these type of new, synthetic drugs, as they are harder to detect and listing them is challenging, as they evolve and change so quickly.
Only six analogues of fentanyl analogues were discovered during 2012 to 2015, while there were 66 analogues in 2016 alone, Deng said, adding that China now has 134 scheduled types of NPS.
Another difficulty is that different countries have different rules toward NPS, Deng said, although he said that tackling their production and use requires international cooperation since many NPS were imported or exported.
China has cooperated with over 20 countries to crack down on crimes involving NPS, such as the U.S., Canada and Sweden; and provided over 4,000 pieces of information regarding these crimes, said Deng.