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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

30 years later, marijuana makes comeback in Mumbai colleges, more popular than MD

Mumbai city news: Students who tried weed for the first time told police they had mistaken the grass-like drug for herbs

mumbai Updated: Jul 09, 2017 16:33 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
The popularity of weed among students has surged as the drug is easily available and cheap.
The popularity of weed among students has surged as the drug is easily available and cheap.(Photo for representation)

Weed makes a huge comeback in Mumbai’s college campuses after almost three decades on hiatus.

The anti-narcotics cell (ANC) raided several college campuses across Mumbai over the past two days. They found that weed or pot usage among students has increased substantially in recent times. The findings came as a surprise as psychotropic, synthetic and recreational drugs such as heroin, brown sugar or mephedrone (MD) were thought to have replaced weed in campuses since 1990.

“It has been decades since we came across instances of marijuana abuse among college students,” deputy commissioner of police (DCP), ANC, Shivdeep Lande told HT.

The plan to crack down on college students, code-named ‘drug free campus’, was conceived by Mumbai police commissioner Dattatreya Padsalgikar a week ago, as part of the police’s drug-abuse awareness campaign, which was launched in colleges on June 26.

“During the awareness drive, we received complaints that drugs were being peddled and abused within and outside colleges,” sources said. Based on this information, the police commissioner ordered the top-secret crackdown.

Undercover ANC sleuths fanned across campuses and peddlers were identified. A college in Kandivli (West) was the first to be raided. On Wednesday, four drug peddlers were rounded up from there and 1.10 kg of weed recovered.

This was followed by raids near a college in Ghatkopar and another in Worli, where a kilogram of the banned substance was found and two were arrested. In the final raid, near a college in Bandra (West) on Thursday, two more peddlers were caught. Of the eight peddlers arrested, three are women.

ANC sources said peddlers at most colleges had only marijuana, while the Bandra peddlers also had 60g of heroin.

ANC veterans attribute the recent increase in weed abuse among college students to several factors.

The all-out crackdown against mephedrone — including the ANC’s raids on two manufacturing units in January — led many clandestine units in Mumbai to shut in haste, said a senior ANC officer, who did not wish to be identified. The arrest of a few key members in the supply and distribution chain had spread panic among middle-rung conduits and street peddlers. Many of them are suspected to have fled to Bangkok to avoid police detection or possible arrest.

Simultaneously, the Narcotics Control Bureau and customs department have cracked down on the smuggling of synthetic drugs, such as LSD, into the city via airports and ports. This has dealt a severe blow to the supply of the imported contraband.

This has also led to a surge in the popularity of weed among students, as the drug is easily available and cheap.

DCP Lande said the cannabis seized at the college campuses had been sourced from Ganjam district in Odisha, where the contraband is available freely.

The peddlers carry small quantities of the drug, about 10g, in small polythene sachets, which are sold for Rs300 each. “They deliberately carry small quantities to minimise losses and evade harsher punishment,” Lande added.

Interestingly, students who tried weed for the first time told police they had mistaken the grass-like drug for herbs. “Most of them were introduced to the drug [packed into cigarettes or rolled in papers] by former students, who are the key members in the supply chain ,” an ANC officer said.

First Published: Jul 08, 2017 10:36 IST