Drug abuse and drug situation in Hong Kong in 2022 (with photos)

     The new term of the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) noted at its meeting today (March 27) the figures of the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA) and other drug-related figures for the whole year of 2022. 

     Figures from the CRDA revealed that the total number of reported drug abusers in 2022 decreased by 14 per cent (from 6 095 to 5 235) compared with that in 2021. The number of reported young drug abusers aged under 21 also declined by 19 per cent (from 888 to 718). The most common type of drug abused in 2022 was heroin, followed by cocaine and methamphetamine (commonly known as "Ice"), while cannabis, cocaine and ketamine (commonly known as "K") remained as the three most common types of drugs abused among young drug abusers aged under 21. 

     The ACAN noted that cocaine was the most common type of psychotropic substance taken among drug abusers, overtaking "Ice" for the first time in 10 years. In fact, according to a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the middle of this month, coca cultivation surged by 35 per cent during the year between 2020 and 2021, and there is also an expansion of the cocaine market into non-traditional markets. As such, the ACAN considered that the impact of the international supply of drugs on Hong Kong should be closely monitored. The higher number of young people taking cannabis and cocaine also warrants attention.

     According to the figures from law enforcement agencies (LEAs), the number of persons arrested for drug offences in 2022 decreased by 14 per cent (from 4 634 to 4 005) compared with that in 2021. For the same period, the number of young arrestees aged under 21 decreased by 29 per cent (from 678 to 483), and cannabis was the main drug involved. In addition, according to court cases concluded in 2022, among persons prosecuted for drug offences, the share among them being convicted was as high as 83 per cent. The ACAN also noticed that LEAs had broken a string of major drug trafficking cases in the previous year even when COVID-19 ran rampant.

     The ACAN Chairman, Dr Donald Li, said, "The figures in 2022 were very likely affected by the severe COVID-19 epidemic situation at the time. We will not let our guard down as the recent resumption of social activities and travel presents new challenges to our anti-drug work and the figures in 2023 might rebound. The change of policies against drugs in some regions overseas, especially the relaxation of control on cannabis, and the deliberate attempt of drug dealers in promoting drugs as a trendy and stress-relieving product, will have an impact on the alertness of the public against drugs. The ACAN and the Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau will enhance targeted anti-drug efforts in collaboration with other relevant departments in face of the challenges ahead. I also call for members of the public to say no to drugs when travelling abroad, and don't bring an addiction home."

     As large-scale entertainment events and social gatherings are becoming more frequent as the society has resumed normalcy in full, and with a long holiday approaching in April, the ND reminded the public to stay away from drugs at all times, be it during travel or social gatherings. Also, no one should carry unknown items for others. Trafficking, illegal possession and consumption of drugs are criminal offences. Offenders may be subject to imprisonment and fines, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. In addition, the ND reminded members of the public to pay attention to product labels when shopping online or during trips, especially those with cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) as an ingredient, to avoid breaching the law inadvertently. The public should not buy any products containing drugs. Examples of CBD products are already uploaded onto the website of the ND for public reference (www.nd.gov.hk/pdf/examples_CBD_products.pdf).

     Members of the public that have any issues with drugs can make use of instant messaging applications WhatsApp or WeChat by sending messages to 98 186 186, or call the 24-hour hotline 186 186 to request information or seek assistance from professional social workers.

     The figures of the CRDA in recent years and the detailed information about drugs are available on the website of the ND (www.nd.gov.hk). The relevant figures might be affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Hence, in interpreting and using the figures of the CRDA in recent years, there is a need to take note of this situation. Since the drug abuse situation and drug scene might be affected by the resumption of normalcy in society, the ND and the ACAN will pay close attention to statistical figures in future in order to monitor drug trends continuously.

Ends/Monday, March 27, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:17