If fentanyl has been legal in China, why so few addicts?

“China Bans All Types of Fentanyl, Cutting Supply of Deadly Drug to U.S. and Fulfilling Pledge to Trump” (nytimes):

China announced on Monday that it would ban all variants of the powerful opioid fentanyl, a move that could slow the supply of a drug that in recent years has caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the United States.

China already treats more than two dozen variants of fentanyl and its precursors as controlled substances, thus strictly regulating their production and distribution, but it has banned those variants only after reviewing them case by case, a process that can be lengthy. And because so many more variants exist, and new ones are constantly being created, banning them as a broadly defined class could be far more effective.

“We believe that the United States is the main cause of the problem of the abuse of fentanyl in the United States,” [Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of the National Narcotics Control Commission] said, citing weak enforcement and a culture of addiction. He noted that the United States consumed 80 percent of the world’s opioids while making up only 5 percent of the world’s population.

In other words, until now fentanyl has been de facto legal in China. Why does a Google search for “China fentanyl addicts” turn up essentially nothing about Chinese people in China being addicted?


8 thoughts on “If fentanyl has been legal in China, why so few addicts?

  1. The party does what it wants in China. The law is irrelevant. It doesn’t want Chinese addicts. It does want the US flooded with drugs. Therefore one happens and not the other.

  2. Notwithstanding that it is nominally communist, China doesn’t have a welfare state so if you spend your days drugged up you will have nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep, no clothing to wear and you will die. Drug use is the mark of an affluent society — where tax revenues support those who chose to spend their lives drugged up.

  3. Why does a Google search for “China fentanyl addicts” turn up essentially nothing…

    Did you do the search in Chinese? Even so, social media about unpleasant topics is tightly controlled in China. Also, note “Google” isn’t a thing there.

  4. > Why does a Google search for “China fentanyl addicts” turn up essentially nothing…

    Maybe it’s like searching for “China HIV infections” years back when the government denied there were any, thus, none were reported.

    Or maybe “weak enforcement” is a clue. “Execution is the penalty for some drug crimes.” via https://drugabuse.com/the-20-countries-with-the-harshest-drug-laws-in-the-world/

    But most likely, fentanyl manufacturers and distributors are self-interested, and move the supply to where the return is highest. Addicts in China just cannot pay as much, on average, as those in the US.

  5. My Chinese ex explained to me that the Opium Wars pretty much ended any tolerance for drug addicts in China (at one point up to 1 in 4 men were addicted and the country was crippled). He described the British traders who pumped in opium as “clever evil”. The “Century of Humiliation” continues to affect Chinese attitudes towards drugs today. Can’t say I blame them. I am pretty sure Singapore (maybe China too) continues to enforce the death penalty for drug possession.

    • ^^^ that. The Opium Wars and their impact on the Chinese population and the Chinese economy are fascinating, terrifying subjects. Mao put an end to it in the 1950s. They don’t want it back and for them, geopolitically, it’s not their problem that we have so very many troubles these days.

  6. Chinese are too damn busy to bother with addiction. Idleness, devil’s hands, or something. A very American thing.

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