Hong Kong has reported a decline in the number of drug abusers in the city, according to the latest data. However, that may not be a true reflection of the situation as the fifth wave of Covid-19 could have impacted reporting, authorities have said.

The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) on Thursday announced that the total number of reported drug abusers in the first half of 2022 decreased by 24 per cent year on year, going from 3,589 to 2,742. The number of abusers aged under 21 also dropped by 25 per cent, from 551 to 411.

Drugs such as methamphetamine and heroin seized by Hong Kong Customs in September. Photo: GovHK.

In a press statement, the advisory body said the figures “were likely substantially affected by the COVID-19 epidemic” earlier this year.

“[T]he normal operation of the city was severely affected, and hence reporting agencies (including treatment and rehabilitation agencies, and law enforcement agencies) might have come into contact with fewer drug abusers,” the statement read.

Citing data from the Central Registry of Drug Abuse, the committee said the three most common drugs abused in the first half of 2022 were heroin, cocaine and cannabis. For those under 21, it was cannabis, cocaine and ketamine.

Hong Kong has long had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs, even those that are legal elsewhere. The city is set to ban products that contain cannabidiol, a cannabis extract that the World Health Organization has called “harmless” that is better known as CBD.

Young arrestees

The ACAN also highlighted the proportion of young people committing serious drug offences. Among arrestees aged below 21, 64 per cent were apprehended for serious offences – 15 percentage points higher than among those aged over 21.

Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

ACAN chairman Donald Li warned young people “not to take chances or believe in the fallacy that teenagers or students will not be held legally responsible” for crimes such as drug trafficking.

Support HKFP  |  Code of Ethics  |  Error/typo?  |  Contact Us  |  Newsletter  | Transparency & Annual Report

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.