Taking forward his call to decriminalise poppy husk, opium and marijuana, Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi will move a private member’s bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 for it.
A draft has been prepared by a group of Delhi-based lawyers and professionals, said Dr Gandhi, who won on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket but remains currently suspended from the party due to differences with the leadership. “Discussions on the bill will be held among politicians, lawyers, psychiatrists, academicians, activists, drug users, religious leaders and media personalities this weekend to elicit their opinions and give it a final shape,” he said.
“This amendment can legalise common recreational drugs like bhukki (poppy husk), bhang (marijuana) and afeem (opium). Also, the law should treat drug addicts as patients, not criminals,” he added. The NDPS Act was enacted to meet the UN conventions on drug policy, he said, “but the miserable failure of punitive measures to combat drug supply occurred as the demand saw exponential growth, leading to creation of mafias that ensure continual supply regardless of the harshest punishment provisions”.
He also cited that many countries had seen over the years that by decriminalising certain substances that pose minimal health risks, and by following harm-reduction policies, “the demand for harmful and killing medical and synthetic nasha (intoxicants/drugs) has dropped drastically, along with the offences committed”.
Though not naming Punjab, he said, “Certain Indian states are currently facing a massive drug problem , with citizens between 15-40 years of age habitually abusing drugs, and this has caused considerable harm to society in general and youth in particular.”
The objective, he said, is also to demolish “the nexus of politicians, police and peddlers, who are spreading the menace of harmful artificial and synthetic drugs into the blood of youth in the country which has succeeded in substituting the common man’s recreational drugs like opium, opium husk and bhang”.