Drug abuse reports in Hong Kong decrease from 1,863 to 1,666 year-on-year, CRDA data shows

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24th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) noted a decrease in registered drug abusers in Hong Kong for the first quarter of 2024, compared to the same period last year. According to the figures from the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA), the total number of reported drug abusers dropped from 1,863 in 2023 to 1,666 in 2024. However, ACAN has expressed concerns over the volatility of these numbers and plans to maintain vigilance throughout the year.

The data revealed that heroin remains the most abused drug among the general population, followed by cocaine and cannabis. In contrast, the younger demographic, particularly those under 21, showed a higher inclination towards cannabis, cocaine, and ketamine, commonly referred to as “K.”

Law enforcement agencies reported 767 arrests related to drug offences in the first quarter, with 62 of these involving young individuals under 21. The conviction rate for drug-related offences remains high, nearing 90 per cent, with more than half of the young offenders convicted of drug trafficking receiving sentences exceeding five years.

Dr. Donald Li, Chairman of ACAN, highlighted a worrying trend among the youth who view cannabis consumption as a lifestyle choice or a trend. “There’s a dangerous misconception among young people that cannabis is harmless, which stands in stark contrast to medical evidence showing its harmful effects,” said Dr. Li. To combat this, the Narcotics Division (ND) of the Security Bureau (SB) is set to launch new public service announcements on television and radio emphasizing that “Cannabis is a drug.”

The ND is also addressing the issue of cocaine use with similar media initiatives, portraying the drug as a dangerous quagmire. Animated videos illustrating the devastating effects of drug use are being circulated online to reinforce the message.

Recent months have seen an uptick in drug trafficking cases involving inbound travellers, prompting ACAN to support enhanced law enforcement measures, especially with the summer holiday season approaching. Dr. Li cautioned the public against the allure of seemingly innocent products that may contain drugs, such as CBD, which has recently been classified as a dangerous drug in Hong Kong.

The government and ACAN continue to monitor the emergence of new drugs and trends both locally and globally. With the resumption of normal travel, there has been a noticeable increase in recruitment advertisements by drug traffickers offering lucrative trips as bait for smuggling activities. The ND is ramping up its educational campaigns to warn the public against these deceptive offers, emphasizing the severe penalties for drug trafficking, which can include life imprisonment or even the death penalty in some jurisdictions.