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China steps up punishment for drug crime

Xinhua, April 8, 2016 Adjust font size:

China's top court on Thursday released a new judicial interpretation on rules for drug-related convictions and sentencing, stepping up punishments.

The document, issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), adopted stricter rules for ketamine by lowering the threshold for criminalization of the drug by half.

Ketamine abuse in China is quite serious, said Fang Wenjun, a senior justice of the SPC. The number of ketamine users continues to grow, and it ranks third among substances, after methamphetamine and heroin, in terms of involvement in drug-related violations.

Production and sale of the drug has also been on the rise in recent years, and harsher rules are needed to deal with it, Fang said.

An increase in users and violations has resulted in a number of cases of self-mutilation, violence and driving under the influence, according to the SPC judge.

The new document also added 12 new types of illegal drugs to be subject to criminal penalties and lowered the threshold for conviction of illegal use for 33 precursor chemicals.

Drug crime by state officials and illegally providing narcotics to juveniles will be subject to harsher punishments, according to the SPC interpretation.

The interpretation also covers online offenses.

The new rules will take effect from April 11.

Also on Thursday, the SPC announced that courts at all levels have concluded the trials of 139,024 cases of drug cases in 2015, an increase of over 30 percent.

A total of 137,198 drug criminals have been sentenced and almost 20 percent of them received heavy penalties-- five years of imprisonment or above, including capital punishment.

Drug lords, professional drug dealers and re-offenders will also receive heavier punishments.

Ma Yan, another SPC justice, called on members of the public to participate in the anti-drug campaign and eliminate the underlying causes of such problems.