BEIJING -- Chinese lawmakers adopted the country's first-ever anti-drug law here on Saturday in a bid to curb drug-related crimes and reduce the growing number of users, especially under-aged addicts.
The bill says the owners and managers of discos, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues are responsible to report drug takers to the police or will be punished otherwise.
The police are authorized, if necessary, to search people and their luggage for illegal drugs at key public places, such as train stations, long-distance bus stations and border crossings.
The number of drug takers in China grew 35 percent over a five-year period to 1.16 million in early 2005, according to police data. It is estimated that the country has more than 700,000 heroin addicts, of which 69 percent are under 35.
According to the law, drug addicts might be allowed to recover in their communities in a limited period of three years, rather than being confined to rehabilitation centers as the current drug control regulation requires.
The bill says "drug-addicted minors under 16, pregnant women and those who breast-feed babies less than one year old are not appropriate for compulsive isolated drug rehabilitation."
Lawmakers said it was imperative to introduce the anti-drug law to crack down on drug-related crimes, protect public health and maintain social order.
The law also sets strict rules on the clinical use of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and medicines that could be used to make illegal narcotics, such as methadone and ephedrine.
Opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine hydrochloride -- commonly known as "ice" -- morphine and cocaine were listed as banned drugs in the bill, which was introduced to legislation in August 2006.
The bill stipulates that Chinese police should share information with other countries and international organizations and enhance collaboration in investigations.
The law, which will take effect on June, 1, 2008, was adopted at the weeklong 31th session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), or the country's top legislature.