Easy purchase of highly toxic substances shows legal loopholes

The easy purchase of highly toxic substances like cyanide poses a serious threat to public safety and health. There is a need for stricter enforcement of regulations and better coordination between different agencies to address this issue.

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Kim Bien chemical market in HCMC

Cyanide is a highly toxic substance that can cause death very quickly, even in small doses. In industry, it is classified as a chemical that is subject to conditional production and business activities. However, buying cyanide or other dangerous chemicals on online markets is within a person’s reach.

As a top-tier poison that is lethal with just a small amount, cyanide is openly bought and sold on the internet. The websites of some chemical companies advertise Potassium cyanide (Potassium Cyanide) in 50kg drums from the US or contained in 1kg boxes from Germany. These are listed in the plating chemicals category. However, the most surprising thing is that buying and selling cyanide on Facebook is extremely easy, the only condition to buy this highly toxic substance is that a buyer must have enough money.

The easy purchase of toxic chemicals has facilitated many crimes, disguised as accidents or poisoning. In October 2023, Cho Ray Hospital admitted a 55-year-old man in the Mekong Delta Province of Tien Giang in critical condition after drinking powdered milk. Based on the course and symptoms, doctors concluded that the victim was acutely poisoned, and suspected of being caused by chemical poisoning.

From this reasoning, the doctors soon narrowed down five poisons (including cyanide, and arsenic) to help police's investigation. The subsequent investigation revealed that a 14-year-old grandson had bought rat poison and mixed it into powdered milk to poison his grandmother and father, resulting in two deaths.

According to lawyer Nguyen The Cuong, Director of Duc Chinh MTV Company, cyanide and some of its compounds are not on the list of banned chemicals for sale but are on the list of chemicals for production and business with conditions in the industrial sector. Therefore, individuals and organizations that want to trade or buy this toxic chemical must comply with the regulations of the 2007 Chemicals Law, Decree 113/2017/ND-CP, and Decree 17/2020/ND-CP.

Accordingly, businesses trading in hazardous chemicals must meet many conditions such as ensuring safety in the chemical business, requirements for technical and material infrastructure, expertise, certificate of sufficient conditions for production and trade of chemicals in the List of chemicals for production and business with conditions.

Also according to lawyer Nguyen The Cuong, according to Article 23 of the Chemicals Law, the purchase and sale of toxic chemicals must have an invoice to serve as a basis for controlling toxic chemicals circulating on the market. The invoice will include information about the name and quantity of the chemical, the purpose of use, the name and signature of the buyer, seller; address, personal information of the representatives of the parties.

The invoice must be kept for at least five years and must be presented when requested by competent authorities. The legal regulations are like that, but in reality, some loopholes have been seen but have not been effectively prevented.

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