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The China Law Center Sponsors Roundtable on Drug Law and Policy

The China Law Center co-sponsored a “Roundtable on Drug Law and Policy” on September 20-21, 2006 with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress, the main law-drafting arm of China’s national legislature.  In August, China’s legislature began reviewing a draft drug control law. The roundtable, held in Beijing, is part of an ongoing Center effort to support development of community-based treatment programs and other alternatives to incarceration as China reforms its criminal justice system.

Drug abuse is emerging as a serious problem in China’s rapidly-changing society. Heroin, the most commonly abused drug, is a particular concern given the connection between intravenous drug use and the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Under current Chinese law, drug abusers and addicts are subject to compulsory drug rehabilitation at police-run facilities or in reeducation-through-labor camps. This system has long been the target of criticism in and out of China.

“A major hope of reformers is that the new drug control law will put significant emphasis on community-based rehabilitation and other more effective and humane alternatives to custodial treatment,” noted YLS Senior Research Scholar Jonathan Hecht, who led the Center’s delegation for the roundtable.  “In addition to legislative changes, this will require development of new community-based organizations to assist drug abusers to break their addiction and learn new behaviors.”

For the roundtable, Judge R. Peter Anderson (YLS '69), Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court and a pioneer in the drug court movement in Massachusetts, joined Center staff member Professor Lorenz Boellinger, who is professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at Bremen University in Germany, and one of Europe’s leading experts on drug policy and law.