China’s recent move to list all fentanyl-related substances as controlled drugs may be a game-changer in the United States’ battle against opioid addiction.
The move came following President Trump’s criticism that China allows synthetic opioids to be shipped to the United States. The U.S. continues to battle an epidemic of opioid-related deaths.
Closing the loophole will prevent Chinese drug traffics from altering fentanyl compounds to get them into the U.S. The new regulation went into effect on May 1.
Understanding the Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a highly addictive painkiller that is much more potent than morphine. Many people who became addicted to the prescription painkiller, Oxycontin, eventually moved on to heroin and fentanyl. Those abusing prescription pills sought something more potent after drug manufacturers changed the way Oxycontin, an extended-release drug meant to treat moderate to severe pain, was produced. Due to its change, users could no longer crush up the pills and snort them.
Shifting the Blame
Though senior public security officials in China confirmed the issue had been resolved, they blamed the U.S. for its drug problems.
Officials claimed that very limited amounts of fentanyl have made its way from China to the U.S., and also blamed America’s drug culture on its troubles with addiction and overdoses. China said it needed to do more work at home to stop its problems.
Drugs pour into the U.S. through the mail. It has gotten more difficult for the U.S. Postal Service to keep up with contraband since the amount of mail has increased due to boosts in online shopping.
American are ordering illegal drugs from overseas, including China, via the dark web. Though U.S. and international law enforcement agencies have been shutting down dark websites that sell illegal items, more continue to crop up.
In 2018, a U.S. congressional probe into the use of fentanyl in the United States found that the substance could be bought online easily from Chinese “labs” and mailed to customers here.
Imports of prescription medications and controlled substances are illegal, and China has become the main source of fentanyl in the United States, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.
A Positive Result of Ongoing Trade Negotiations
This action is a bright spot in relations between China and the U.S. even as its trade war hits a fever pitch. China’s move actually came as a result of trade negotiations. After a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in December, China agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance as a means to deescalate trade frictions.
Last week, The Trump administration raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports from 10% to 25%. About 25% of the products impacted include consumer goods, like baseball gloves and backpacks. In retaliation, China announced it would slap tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.
Though China has agreed to close this loophole, people should expect some time to pass until it really makes a difference is the U.S. opioid crisis. As drugs continue to come in from overseas, payment service providers should pay close attention to ensure that merchants they work with are not engaged in this activity.
Involvement in illegal sales can result in monetary punishments, as well as losing their abilities to operate.
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