Chinese overseas

China warns its citizens against marijuana after Canada legalises it

  • Diplomats in Toronto warn students that drug could prove harmful to physical and mental health after law changes to allow recreational use
  • Warning does not go as far as South Korea, which threatened to prosecute people who consume the drug in Canada when they return home
PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2018, 1:54pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2018, 9:57pm

Chinese diplomats in Canada have issued a public letter to Chinese citizens calling people, especially students, to avoid contact with marijuana, after Canada legalised the recreational use of the drug this month.

The legalisation has become a hot-button topic among the Chinese population, splitting it along generational lines.

The letter, published on the official website of the consulate-general in Toronto, includes explanations from legal experts on what Canada’s marijuana legalisation means.

Although the change in the law means the recreational use of marijuana is now legal: “The consulate would like to remind the Chinese citizens in the consular district, especially international students, in order to protect your own physical and mental health, please avoid contact or using marijuana.”

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Last week South Korea went further than the Chinese authorities by threatening to prosecute any citizens that consumed the drug in Canada on their return.

The Chinese consulate’s letter did not go as far as that, but lists the specific terms under which it is legal to use marijuana Canada, and reminded people that selling or giving the drug to anyone under 18 years old or trying to carry it through customs remained illegal.

The possession, sale and cultivation of marijuana remains strictly prohibited in China and the letter, unsurprisingly, warned people not to try to take the drug abroad.

“The regulation of marijuana might cause severe consequences to foreigners living in Canada,” the letter said.

“If someone breaks the law on marijuana regulation and is sentenced, that person with a criminal record can possibly be deported.” It went on to warn people not to “misunderstand” and “do as you wish”.

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The change in the law has created a cultural divide between generations of Asian-Canadians. While some young Chinese have hailed the move, older immigrants have been critical.

Some have taken to the internet to voice their concerns on the “dangers’ posed by the drug, with alarmist posts like, “You’ll never imagine how many Chinese people’s lives will be ruined by the legalisation!”