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Drugs, Laws And Punishments

In the present times when the term "drugs" is used, "intoxication" comes to our minds but in the Indian History drugs like Bhang and Charas have been used for medicinal purposes for a long-long time.

Now, when drugs were used positively in India, what gave rise to drug abuse?

The answer comes from the neighbouring countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran forming the Golden Crescent. The Golden Crescent is the largest producer of drugs like opium and heroin creating a monopoly in the world. From these three nations, a massive flow of drugs enters India through Indo Pak Border. The results of drug abuse are visible in Punjab.

On the Eastern side, we have Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Loas forming the Golden Triangle which is the world's second-largest producer of opium. In all these nations Opium (Afeem) is being farmed on a large scale.

History of Drug Laws
To tackle illicit drug trafficking in India laws were been present even during the 50s. The Opium Act of 1857, The Opium Act of 1878 and The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1930. However all these three laws have been repealed and currently Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 has taken the position in place of these three.

Aim and Objective of NDPS Act, 1985
The Narcotics Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 has targeted:
  1. To prohibit drug trafficking which includes cultivation, manufacturing, sale and purchase.
  2. To prohibit the consumption
The NDPS Act also provides exceptions when drugs are used for medicinal or scientific purposes and are regulated by the government, as, in ancient India drugs like Ganja and Charas were been used for medicinal purposes. But if the production of drugs is not regulated by the government and is used for illicit purposes then it will be punishable.

Provisions as per NDPS Act
The prosecution depends on the quantity of drugs and the type of drug.
In the Act, there are three categories of drug quantities:
  • Small Quantity
  • Less than commercial quantity
  • Commercial Quantity

For every drug, the quantities differ:
Drugs Small Quantity Commercial Quantity
  1. Ganja
  2. Charas
  3. Opium
  4. Heroin
  5. Morphine
  6. Cocaine
  7. LSD

From cultivation to any further operation like manufacture, transport, sale or purchase no person shall indulge in any such activities until not authorized.

Section 8: Prohibition of certain operations.

No person shall:
  • Cultivate any coca plant or gather any portion of coca plant
  • Cultivate the opium poppy or any cannabis plant; or
  • Produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, etc., except for medical or scientific purposes to the extent provided by the provisions of the act.

  1. For small quantity, six months imprisonment with rigorous punishments or a fine up to 10 thousand or both.
  2. For less than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity, imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine which may extend to Rs. 1,00,000.
  3. For commercial quantity, imprisonment shall not be less than ten years but may extend to 20 years and shall be liable to a fine not less than Rs. 1,00,000 but may extend to Rs. 2,00,000.

The habitual offenders are punished 1.5 times more than the prescribed punishment. The habitual offenders are often punished with death penalty under NDPS Act.

Section 20: Punishment for contravention in relation to the cannabis plant and cannabis.

Which regulates cultivation, usage, consumption, possession, sale, purchase, etc., with punishments the same as section 8.

Section 23: Punishment for illegal import-export into India or transhipment of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances

Section 27: Punishment for use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Where narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances consumed are cocaine, morphine, diacetylmorphine, or any other narcotic drug or psychotropic substance as may be specified by the central government by notification in the Official Gazette, with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees or both.

Section 31:
Enhanced punishment for committing an offence under NDPS Act for the second time after having been punished once.

Such a person shall be punished with rigorous punishment for a term which may extend to one-half of the maximum term of imprisonment.

Section 31 A: Death punishment for certain offences after a previous conviction
If any person commits, attempts to commit or abets someone to commit any of the offences punishable under section 19, section 24, section 27 A and for offences involving a commercial quantity of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substances shall be punished with the punishment specified under section 31 or with death penalty.

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