Substance abuse has become an epidemic in India. A House Hold Survey was
conducted by the Government in all 36 states and Union territories covering
around 200,000 households, with the sample population of all between the ages of
According to the findings, about 14.6% of people (i.e. about 16 Crore people)
are current users of alcohol. About 2.8% of Indians (3.1 Crore individuals)
reported having used any cannabis product within past 12 months (Bhang � 2% or
2.2 crore people; Ganja/ Charas � 1.2% or 1.3 Crore people).
Evolution And The Stakeholders Involved
The Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, aimed to curtail the drug
epidemic. It contained definitions of substances considered as Narcotics and
Psychotropics and also defines an addict, namely means a person who has
dependence on any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance;] It mentions all
the authorities responsible for controlling the sale of drugs and gives Centre
the power to add or omit any drug. It also mentions the penalties and
punishments in case one in is caught with it.
Prior to 1985, India did not have any legislation to illegalize cannabis use. It
succumbed to Western pressure, as United States was campaigning for a worldwide
policy against drugs, which India tried to avoid for nearly two decades. The
NDPS Act is in consonance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,1961.
Since, 1985 the NDPS Act has been Amended three times � in 1988,2001,2014.
In the latest amendment, there has been a relaxation in terms of Essential
Narcotics � namely (morphine, methadone, fentanyl) which are commonly used for
pain relief. It increased the punishment for �small quantities�
from 6 months to
one year of imprisonment, but it removed the mandatory death sentence on repeat
convicts trafficking large quantities of narcotics.
This policy aims to target the vulnerable people who are prone to addictions
developing out of curiosity, mental health issues etc. Commonly the youth are
found to be addicted to narcotics. It also aims to provide aid to those who are
dependant on drugs by providing measures, rehabilitation and grants to NGOS
working for the same. It targets illicit drug traffickers, that responsible for
the epidemic and dependency in the first place with strict measures up to 30
years of imprisonment.
What Issues Does It Entail?
The most important issue is Public Health. The basic nature of drugs is
addictive and is hard to control. With countries like America as precedent, we
can see how Drug Epidemic can ruin the youth of an entire Nation.
The usage of illicit drugs alters one's constitution, behaviour and temperament.
Many people use performance enhancing drugs which bring out the ethical issue.
Study Drugs, Drugs to increase strength etc can have alarming side effects and
give an undue advantage to the users which is unethical in each sense.
Drug usage is bad for any society as it leads to a deviation from the socially
approved behaviours and norms, it may also influence non users.
Economically, this is a sin good which cannot be controlled by the regular
market as it is illegal, hence they have a market of their own, whose practices
are not regulated with unfair prices and quality of drugs unknown. The users are
always at risk. In America deaths by usage of the drug ecstasy has been higher
than ever, especially in females. It has been found that any deviation from a
set composition of ecstasy can have dangerous effects.
Morally, the use of soft recreational drugs has not been frowned upon in India.
It has been a custom of Hindus to consume Bhang during the Holi festival. Many
sages smoke cannabis and chillums since as early as 2000 BC, as it has also been
mentioned in the Atharva Veda. However, in recent times, the view has changed
and even soft drugs are frowned upon.
- spell out the policy of India towards narcotic drugs and psychotropic
- serve as a guide to various Ministries and organisations in the Government of
India and to the State Governments as well as International Organisations, NGOs,
- re-assert India's commitment to combat the drug menace in a holistic
- It allows for authorized searches (S.41)
- Right to be searched in front of a Gazetted Officer (S.52) The person
who is arrested should be informed of the grounds of arrest, as soon as they are
arrested. (S.52 (1))
- It provides the Central Government to omit or add any substance in the
list of psychotropic substances. (S.3)
- Empowers Central Government to take all such measures necessary to
prevent and combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking. (S.4)
- The Central Government can delegate powers and create an Authority or a
hierarchy of authorities for the purpose mentioned in S.4. (S. 4(3))
- The Central Government has to appoint a Narcotics Commissioner and can
appoint other such officers. (S.5). While S. 7(l) empowers the State
Governments to appoint any such officers.
- The Central Government may constitute a Committee for consultation.
- Empowers Central Government to constitute a National Drug Control Fund.
- Empowers Central Government to control, permit and regulate the
cultivation and sale of certain drugs like opium, coca keeping in mind the
provisions in S.8. (S 9). S.10 Provides the same to State Governments.
The Policy is very elaborative and contains many provisions. However, there
hasn't been much demarcation in punishments with regards to soft drugs and hard
drugs. Soft Drugs like cannabis have as severe punishments as hard drugs like
cocaine. Which is unreasonable considering India's history with Cannabis Usage
and there hasn't been any substantive proof of any harm or long-term effect
associated with Cannabis users.
Tobacco is scientifically certified to be more
harmful than certain soft drugs. Softer drugs are considered to be gateway drugs
to hard drugs, whereas it could eb quite the opposite. The ban on soft drugs
could be the reason why many are pushed into hard drugs. The punishments, though
clearly defined do not follow a particular metric or are not proportionate in
terms of the type of drug.
The policy gives a lot of power to the Centre which could be detrimental to the
public at large as each State has a different issue with drugs, like Punjab
being one where the drug abuse rates are high.
It has also been seen that at the time this policy was brought forth, there
wasn't much drug abuse, addiction or any such issue. Over the time, with making
certain drugs illegal, the drug epidemic has increased.
This law serves as deterrent to drug traffickers. This may however lead to
more illegal trade and black markets which cannot be regulated.
This policy demonizes may softer drugs that could be used for
relaxation purposes and which do not have any noticeable harmful effects.
This policy does have moral implications and changes the notion
around many substances that have been considered historically acceptable.
This Policy aims to regulate society through punishing certain
behaviour. This does affect the way society views addicts. It may victimize
addicts to a degree that is unnecessary. Social regulation tends to face
Many drugs that are required for patients in certain
quantities are not legal. The ones that are made legal will be available only
through legitimate, legal channels. This creates a controlled market for
therapeutic drugs. However, with so much scrutiny there is always a chance of
bad quality ones sold through illegitimate channels.
This policy is an aim to align India with the political
ideology of the West mainly. It has signed three conventions and was bound to
come up with some sort of regulation.
The policy is very elaborate but lacks refinement and more consideration. It
gives a lot of power in the hands of the Centre, which may make it arbitrary.
There should be a proper metric for the punishments relating to the offences.
The fact that there is a similar punishment for soft drugs as well as hard drugs
is problematic. Soft drugs cannot be demonized due to India's historic context
and cultural context. The severity of addiction is also different for both.
This policy in turn draws out a �problem where there isn't
� is one
the early on criticisms. It is true, the drug epidemic did increase after this
There should be inclusion of more drugs that can be used for
therapeutic purposes in a controlled manner.
It is a recommendation that softer drugs should be legalized, as it may be an
effective way to reduce addiction to hard drugs like heroin. Softer drugs should
stop being regarded as Gateway drugs
Concluding, the policy needs to make some changes in its strict attitude
towards all drugs. The regulations need to be made flexible, as such
regulations tend to victimize people and force them to do indulge in illegal
There has to be transparency in the procedure used to arrest people on
- Annual report (2017-2018) by Ministry of Social Justice, Pg-133
- The Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Section (2)(i)
- Annual Report (2017-2018) by Ministry of Social justice, Pg 134