ACAN notes drug abuse and drug situation in Hong Kong in first quarter of 2022 and supports further control of CBD through legislation
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     The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) noted at its meeting today (June 22) the figures of the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA) and relevant drug figures for the first quarter of 2022. The ACAN noticed that the total number of reported drug abusers in the first quarter of 2022 declined compared with that for the same period in 2021, but the relevant figures had likely been substantially affected by the COVID-19 epidemic in the first quarter of 2022. At the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic during the period, the normal operation of the city was severely affected, and reporting agencies, (including treatment and rehabilitation agencies, and law enforcement agencies) might have come into contact with fewer drug abusers.

     Figures from the CRDA revealed that the total number of reported drug abusers in the first quarter of 2022 decreased by 26 per cent (from 1 989 to 1 473) compared with that for the same period in 2021. The number of reported drug abusers aged under 21 also declined by 19 per cent (from 329 to 267). The three most common types of drugs abused in the first quarter of 2022 were heroin, cocaine and cannabis, while the three most popular types among young drug abusers aged under 21 were cannabis, cocaine and ketamine (commonly known as "K").

     According to figures from law enforcement agencies, the number of persons arrested for drug offences in the first quarter of 2022 decreased by 35 per cent (from 1 041 to 674). For the same period, the number of young arrestees aged under 21 decreased by 44 per cent (from 147 to 83), and nearly half of them were involved in cannabis-related offences (46 per cent).

     The ACAN also noted the findings of the 2020/21 Survey of Drug Use among Students (2020/21 Student Survey). The Survey is a triennial research project conducted by a research institute commissioned by the Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau, aiming to obtain the latest drug-taking trends of students, hence facilitating understanding of students' knowledge of drugs and attitudes towards drug taking. Such information assists the Government in formulating anti-drug initiatives for better responding to the actual situation. The 2020/21 Student Survey successfully surveyed about 113 400 students from upper primary to post-secondary levels, accounting for about 16 per cent of the student population in Hong Kong.

     The Survey results indicated that the proportion of students who claimed to have taken drugs remained at 2.5 per cent, which was about the same as that in the previous survey (i.e. the one conducted in 2017/18). The proportion of young drug-taking students aged 10 or below had increased by 0.9 percentage point (from 1.2 per cent to 2.1 per cent).

     The Survey also showed that drug-taking students predominantly took psychotropic substances. Cough medicine was the most common type of drug taken by upper primary students, and cannabis was the most common type of drug taken by students at the secondary and post-secondary levels. It is worth noting that cannabis had become the second most common type of drug taken among upper primary students, following cough medicine.

     Meanwhile, after discussion, the ACAN supported the Government's proposal to control cannabidiol (CBD) under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (DDO) (Cap. 134), noting that legislation will protect public health and help combat drug problems.

     The ACAN Chairman, Dr Donald Li, said, "The ACAN supports the Government in stepping up the control of CBD through legislation, so as to end the supply of CBD consumer products in the market. The wide availability of CBD products in the market may lead members of the public to wrongly believe that cannabis is not a drug. Moreover, there has been no authoritative conclusion on the claimed benefits of CBD products, and such products would most likely contain tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive and a dangerous drug. CBD may also naturally decompose into THC and even be used for making THC. The facts have fully explained that CBD and its relevant products may pose risks to public health, and it is appropriate to ban the trading of such products.

     "Given that CBD products are popular in other places, the ACAN suggested that the Government should widely publicise the requirements of the law, particularly to the import and export sectors as well as Hong Kong residents returning to Hong Kong and inbound travellers, so that they would not breach the law inadvertently. The ACAN will continue to fully support relevant publicity and remind the public that 'Cannabis is a drug'."

     In support of the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, the ND has stepped up its anti-drug publicity. This will include the launch of a series of anti-drug infotainment television programmes to remind members of the public of the harm caused by drug abuse, and to stay away from drugs together. The website of the ND (www.nd.gov.hk) contains rich information about drugs, including frequently asked questions about cannabis, cocaine, etc. For seeking information or assistance from social workers, members of the public can also make use of instant messaging applications WhatsApp and WeChat by sending messages to 98 186 186, or call the 24-hour hotline 186 186.

     ‚ÄčThe CRDA figures for the first quarter of 2022 and the report of 2020/21 Student Survey are available on the website of the ND (www.nd.gov.hk/en/index.html).

Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Issued at HKT 17:31

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