Reporter in Guangzhou purchases marijuana online on Alibaba site

The 100-yuan order was placed and paid for via Alipay, says Guangzhou-based journalist

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 4:53am

They say you can get anything online in China these days - from your fake vanity iPhone "logins" to quirkier purchases such as rental boyfriends or girlfriends and names for unborn children.

Not so common is the experience of a reporter from Guangzhou's Southern Metropolis Daily who recently ordered a gram of cannabis online for 100 yuan (HK$124) via Alipay.

It took three days for the product to arrive, sealed in foil usually used for packaging dried tea leaves. The reporter just had to type in a few so-called "black words" into a search bar, the report said.

An Alibaba Group spokeswoman told that the sale of cigarettes and illegal drugs was strictly prohibited on both its e-commerce platforms, Taobao Marketplace and

"We have a large internet security team tasked with filtering such items using technological and manual means, but we also welcome users to report any listings so that they can be removed," she said. "Any sellers found listing such items will be penalised immediately."

According to the newspaper, which handed the contraband to police for investigation, the discovery is the "first reported case of marijuana trading over the internet in years".

Online forums and social networking sites such as Baidu Tieba, Tencent Qzone and Douban were now the key covert "gathering points" for users of marijuana and other drugs to discuss purchasing, drug experiences and even cultivation, the report said.

Drug users and vendors would communicate using drug jargon and secret codes that would bypass internet censors. Illicit drug names including marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy are banned on Baidu and weibo, but Chinese slang words such as "ice skating" (crystal meth) and "postage stamp" (LSD) are used in their place.

The report, quoting experts from drug treatment centres, said cannabis was a more convenient drug to buy and tended to be cheaper, making it a "pop" drug among China's young.

Opiates such as heroin and synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines, ecstasy and ketamine, however, still account for most of the drug addiction cases across the country, according to Xinhua.