The Chinese government has issued a warning to its citizens living in Canada after the country moved into the second phase of cannabis legalization last Thursday. A statement released by the Chinese consulate in Calgary stopped short of barring Chinese citizens from buying or consuming the drug, but did counsel them to “fully understand the harmfulness of cannabis products.”
China has seen a wave of Reefer Madness-like anti-cannabis hysteria arise, heightened by fears over the spillover effects of marijuana regulation in parts of the US and Canada. The country has not limited its outrage to foreign nations. A Communist Party-led campaign against the mafia has resulted in the shuttering of Shanghai nightlife venues. In Beijing, foreign bar and restaurant owners report having been surprised with urine tests to prove that they are free of cannabis and other drugs.
The Chinese rejection of marijuana has even reached the ears of the White House. In June, an official from the China National Narcotics Control Commission told reporters that cannabis legalization in the US and Canada has led to a 25 percent spike in marijuana use in China. In that instance, President Donald Trump countered by saying China is responsible for “flooding” the United States with illegal fentanyl.
Though Canada legalized marijuana last October, the country has been slowly phasing in the regulation of particular cannabis products. Last week, on the anniversary of that initial legalization legislation, new regulations for certain cannabis derivatives took effect, including those related to edibles, beverages, vapes, dabs, and topical products.
Cannabis Consumers Face Harsh Penalties
This week China cautioned its citizens against THC products in particular, and bringing any cannabis back to the country in general. Earlier this summer, a Canadian man was arrested on drug charges in Yantai, the most recent in a string of people from the country who have found themselves in trouble in China for similar offenses.
Chinese citizens have good reason to heed their government when it comes to sending or bringing cannabis back home. The death penalty is the maximum sentence that can be handed down for trafficking illegal substances in China, and the country has not proven reluctant to hand down that harshest punishment of all. In fact, a Canadian citizen is currently facing execution after being convicted of conspiracy to smuggle 489 pounds of meth into the country.
Should the government make good on that sentence (which is being appealed), it wouldn’t be the first time China executes a foreigner for trafficking illegal drugs. In 2014, the government put a Japanese man to death, as well as a Filipina courier whose family asked that her name stay out of the press in 2013, and Akmal Shaikh from Great Britain in 2009. Last year, a US college student was released after serving eight months in a Chinese prison on cannabis trafficking charges that turned out to be false.
China’s no tolerance views on marijuana are surprising when regarded in the historical context. Earlier this year, researchers discovered ten ritual braziers in a western China tomb which constitute the earliest known evidence of cannabis being smoked. The vessels are thought to date from at least 2,500 years ago.