A proposed legislation to legalise and start regulated supply of traditional intoxicants such as opium and marijuana (cannabis) is likely to be placed in front of Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill in the coming winter session.
Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi’s Bill to seek legalisation of the “non-synthetic” intoxicants has been cleared by the legislative branch of Parliament, a statement issued by him informed on Wednesday. Gandhi hopes this winter session the amendment for the NDPS Act will be tabled before the Parliament and hopefully the Act shall be amended to provide relief to common drug user through cheap, regulated and medically supervised supply of traditional and natural intoxicants like ‘afeem’ and ‘bhukki’ (opium) “to get society rid of dangerous and killing medical and synthetic drugs”.
Gandhi, who won as Aam Aadmi Party candidate but has since been suspended from the party, is seeking to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act 1985. This is the second Bill by Gandhi to be accepted for tabling in the Parliament, the first being the Sikh Marriage Bill 2016 that has already been tabled in the Parliament.
The reason for bringing up this amendment to the NDPS Act, says Gandhi, is that “the 30 years’ period of enactment and implementation of NDPS Act has produced results contrary to the desired results”. “Thirty years down the line, where do we stand? The fact of the matter is that the NDPS Act has not only failed in achieving its professed goals, but this ‘War on Drugs’ has delivered results directly opposite to what it aimed to achieve. There can be no better verdict and/or evaluation of such punitive drug laws than frank admission statement of the United Nations Conference on 12th March, 2009, admitting that ‘the war on drugs has failed’,” the statement added.
Dr Gandhi described the intentions behind the enactment that the “NDPS Act was enacted in order to meet then UN Conventions on Drug Policy... The objective was to prevent rampant drug use in society, as it was believed drugs and intoxicants degrade the moral character of individuals and destabilize well-ordered society.”
“Most drugs were made illegal. Anyone found using or possessing such substances was prescribed harsh punishments, and large amounts of money was invested in the enforcement of drug restrictions and punishments handed out herewith. Plants and chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs were strictly controlled, and drug enforcement agencies spent large amounts of money and time ensuring that drugs were eradicated from society,” he added.
“But the ‘war on drugs’ had led to the creation of a dangerous drug mafia, hundreds of scores of human rights violations and innumerable precious lives destroyed.”
“As the common man’s recreational substances were made unavailable, the newer, more potent, addictive and dangerous alternative drugs flooded the markets. Heroin replaced opium, cocaine replaced cannabis, and so on. As the drug business involves huge super profits, on one hand it creates rivalries spilling into gang wars and on the other hand it promotes ruthless and aggressive marketing, thus pushing more and more people into the drug world. Consequently, the petty traditional drug users are turning to the easily available and aggressively marketed more addictive and dangerous street drugs.”
He said statistics of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) indicate that number of drug users arrested contributes to 88% of those jailed under NDPS. “Traffickers and distributors are 2%. No financers have been arrested. The drug mafia operates with impunity, increasing the scale of its operations.”