Chinese lawmakers are expected to adopt the country's first anti-drug law, aimed at curbing drug-related crimes and reducing the growing number of users, at the ongoing legislative session, with revisions showing more care for under-aged addicts.
The law's final draft was "ready for adoption", the Law Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) told the 31st session of the NPC Standing Committee, or top legislature, which began on Sunday. It submitted the bill for a third and possibly final deliberation.
Lawmakers further revised the draft bill that was presented in the final draft to be put to a vote in the coming week.
According to the law's second draft, "drug-addicted pregnant women who breast-feed babies less than one year old, or minors under 14, are not appropriate for isolated compulsive drug rehabilitation".
Some lawmakers said compulsive drug-rehab measures should not be considered as inappropriate for all minors as it was "an important measure to educate, save and help addicts to shake off the obsession with drugs".
"If some parents are unable to help their addicted children to rehabilitate, and community corrections have proved ineffective as well, then young addicts should receive isolated compulsive drug-rehab," lawmakers said.
In an isolated environment, young addicts could receive treatment specially designed for them. This, they said, would be more effective and they could receive support from both their families and the society.
In light of this, the third draft put the inappropriateness of the compulsive rehabilitation for minors "from a mandate to a choice".
After discussion with the State Council, or cabinet, and the Public Security and Justice ministries, the third draft also changed the age limit for compulsive rehabilitation from 14 to 16. This was in line with China's Public Security Administration Law that said "minors under 16 are not covered by the regulations of administrative custody".
The third draft, hopefully to be adopted at the ongoing session, also added, "urban resident committees and townships governments should assist, supervise and urge communities to adopt correction measures on addicts who are not fit for a compulsive one".
Lawmakers said the introduction of an anti-drug law was imperative so as to prevent and seriously punish drug-related crimes, protect public health and maintain social order.
Opium, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine hydrochloride -- commonly known as "ice" -- morphine and cocaine were listed as banned drugs in the draft.
The number of drug takers in China grew 35 percent over a five-year period to reach 1.16 million in early 2005, according to police data.
Police estimates indicated China had more than 700,000 heroin addicts, 69 percent under age 35.