China has banned the sale of more than 100 synthetic drugs, the Miami Herald reports. One of the drugs is flakka, a highly addictive synthetic drug that has hit Florida hard and has been spreading to other states.
The ban also includes an illicit version of fentanyl, an anesthesia drug that is being mixed with heroin to increase its potency. In March, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide alert in response to a surge in overdose deaths from heroin laced with fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use. According to the DEA, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin.
Fentanyl is potentially lethal, even at very low levels, according to the DEA.
The synthetic drug ban is the result of bad publicity and intense pressure from abroad, the article notes. It is now illegal to distribute the synthetic drugs in China and overseas. While the Chinese government has banned certain drugs when there was a domestic addiction problem, this is the first time the government has banned drugs produced in China that are being consumed in foreign countries, according to the newspaper.
Popular club drugs such as Ecstasy, methylone and GHB were already banned. Chinese labs that previously promoted sales of synthetic drugs now state on their websites that they are temporarily out of certain products because of the government new ban.
“They seem to be wanting to make an effort to crack down on the exportation of these illegal synthetic drugs that have caused such serious problems in our country,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Gonzalez told the Miami Herald. He was part of a South Florida delegation of law enforcement officials who visited their counterparts in China last month to discuss the new policy.