Drug Abuse and Crimes: Can society break this connection with the help of the laws

A drug is any substance that results in a change in an organism’s psychology when it is consumed. Drug Abuse is excessive use of a psychotropic substance that results in many physical and psychological problems. Drug Abuse is a very big problem in today’s world as many adolescents are becoming prone to it. There are about 190 million people in the world which are addicted to drugs and the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate.

Drug abuse is not only confined to excessive consumption of illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, cannabis etc. but one can even get addicted to legal drugs like prescribed medicines, nicotine, caffeine, cough syrups etc. Initially, after consumption, an individual might feel good and stress relieved. But once an individual gets addicted to it then it becomes very difficult for him/her to resist themselves from consumption. The people who consume drugs face significant health and social problems. Drugs have an impact on the brain and its functioning. It affects the decision-making process, memory, ability to learn of an individual. People who consume drugs like heroin suffer from diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B and C etc. It also affects the psychological well-being of family members, especially children and make them more prone to substance abuse disorders.

Drug abuse and crime are closely related to each other. Drugs have a direct impact on an individual’s brain and behaviour. Most of the people who commit crimes are under the influence of drugs. They commit crimes to purchase drugs and this results in damages to the society. People who consume drugs are not hired for jobs which forces them to indulge in crimes and illegal activities like smuggling of drugs, theft, prostitution and drug trafficking to sustain themselves and to fulfil their desires. After arrest, criminals are not given proper treatment. This forces them to continue with drug abuse and criminal activities. 

Reasons why people consume Drugs

There are many factors why people become drug addicted. One of the factor is genetic. If parents or any one of the parent in the family is addicted to drugs then there are possibilities that children may also become addicted to drugs as children look at their parents and can develop this habit. Curiosity in the people forces them to try drugs. They are curious about the effects, easily availability of drugs. People start consuming drugs to overcome depression, anxiety, aggression, stress etc. Peer pressure also forces teenagers to consume drugs. They feel that if they consume drugs, they will become very cool and brave and they will start getting recognition and acceptance from other people. Drugs are also used as a substitute to pain because it numbs the pain for a limited period and the person may feel physically and emotionally relaxed. Unpleasant life experiences, failures, miseries also force people to start consuming drugs.

Drug Abuse in India

India is also trapped in the vicious circle of drug abuse and the number of people consuming drugs is increasing day by day. In 2019, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment conducted a survey[1] and it was found that approx. 1.08% of 10-75 years old Indians of the total Indian population were consuming psychotropic drugs and substances. The survey also showed that the top 5 states where the drugs were being consumed at a very high rate were Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The consumption of drugs is quite high,in the state of Punjab especially among the youths. According to a report, 66% of the school going students in the state consumes drugs like gutka or tobacco. In 2017, it was one of the main issue of campaign for the assembly elections. The main source of income for the people of Punjab is agriculture which is stagnant and there are no industries in the state which leaves youth unemployed. Since Punjab is close to Pakistan and Afghanistan it results in cheap and easy access of drugs.

Laws against Drug Abuse in India

India has a vast history in consumption of drugs and other substances which are of the same nature. Consumption of cannabis (a type of drug) is mentioned in the Atharvaveda. The main reason behind such widespread consumption of drugs in India was that there were no laws which prevented the people from consuming drugs. So, to curb the problem of drug abuse, India made various laws at the national level and signed many conventions and treaties at the international level. India has also signed 26 bilateral agreements, 15 MoUs and 2 security pacts with other countries to overcome the problem of drug abuse.

In 1857, the Opium Act[2] was enacted by the British Indian Government. It was introduced at the time when Opium War was going on with France. Britishers wanted India to grow opium. This law was enacted to regulate who grows opium in India and in what quantity.

In 1930, the Dangerous Drugs Act[3] was enacted by the Government of India. This act was enacted to control and regulate drugs which were derived from cannabis, coca etc. and to also regulate their cultivation, possession, manufacturing and sales. The provisions of this act are still relevant in today’s times, especially regarding statutory definition of hemp, coca and opium.

In 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act[4] was enacted by the Government of India. It was introduced to regulate the medical use of drugs like cannabis, opium etc.

In 1950, when Indian Constitution was adopted all the laws came under the purview of the Constitution. Drug laws got a new dimension by the virtue of Article 47 of Indian Constitution which states that the State should make laws on prohibition of consumption of drugs except for medical purposes. Under Indian Constitution matter of “Drugs and Poisons” is placed in the concurrent list which means that both Centre and State Government can make laws on it.

India is a party to various conventions like U.N. Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961[5]; U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971[6] and U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988[7].

Following these conventions Government of India passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985[8]. This act was enacted after almost 24 years of signing the 1961 convention. As the grace period which was granted to the nations under 1961 convention for abolishing the non-medical use of drugs got expired. This act replaced the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. However, the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 is still applied.

It was introduced to punish drug trafficking, improper use of drugs and to fulfil the objectives of International Convention to which India was a party. It places restrictions on cultivation, sale, purchase, production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances except if they are used for scientific purpose or medical use. 

There are 3 classes of substances that are covered by the NDPS Act, 1985: 

       (i) Narcotic Drugs, that are covered under 1961 convention.

      (ii) Psychotropic substances, and all the other substances which are covered under 1971 convention.

      (iii) Controlled substances, which are used for the manufacturing of drugs or psychotropic substances.

It is a punitive and punishing statute. It lays down the procedure which is to be followed in case of any search, seizure is to be done. It also lays down the procedure for arresting a person in relation to an offence mentioned in the act. This act also gives the power to the Central and the State government to frame rules and authorize drug related activities for medical and scientific purposes.

Punishments given under this act depends upon the quantity of drugs involved. There are 3 kinds of quantity:

          (a) Small Quantity

Person who is caught with small quantity is punished with maximum 1-year rigorous imprisonment or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both.

          (b) Intermediate Quantity

Person who is caught with intermediate quantity is punished with rigorous imprisonment which can be extended to 10 years and fine which may extend to Rs. 1 lakh.

           (c) Commercial Quantity

Person who is caught with commercial quantity is punished with rigorous imprisonment which may vary from 10 to 20 years along with a fine ranging from Rs. 1 lakh to 2 lakhs.

However, a person who is arrested for minor offences like consumption and those which involves small quantity can get bail.                                                                                               Earlier the act used to give death penalty for certain repeat crimes which involved large quantity of drugs. But after NDPS (Amendment) Act, 2014[9]death penalty given under Section 31A of the NDPS Act, 1985 was made discretionary. The Court can give alternative punishment under Section 31 of NDPS Act, 1985[10] which allows imprisonment for 30 years.

Other than providing punishments; NDPS Act, 1985 also has certain provisions which deal with treatment aspects of the offenders.

  • Section 4(2)(d) and 7A states that Central Government should allocate their funds for setting up treatment centers. 
  • Section 64A states that people involved in small quantity offences can go for treatment and they will be exempted from execution.
  • Section 39 states that Court can send people who are convicted for an offence involving small quantity of drugs to a recognized medical facility for detoxification.
  • Section 71, 76(2)(f) and 78(2)(b) states that the Centre and the State government can setup and regulate centres for identification, care and treatment of drug addicted people.

In 1988, Prevention of Illicit Traffic of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act[11] was enacted as a supplementary act to the NDPS Act. It was introduced for preventive detention of people who are involved in the drug trafficking activities.

It can be seen that India has enacted various laws to manage and control the problem of drug abuse and punish who violate these laws.

National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023):

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a five-year action plan to solve the problem of drug and substance abuse in the country. The National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023) aims to apply two strategies (i.e) supply reduction and demand reduction. Enforcement Agencies will be responsible for the implementation of supply reduction activities in the country and Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is responsible for implementation of demand reduction activities in the country.

The main aim behind this national plan is to create awareness and educate people about ill effects of drug abuse on individuals, family and society at large and to integrate them back into the society.

There are 3 broad focus areas of the national plan: creating awareness through preventive education; counselling, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicted people and capacity-building of service providers. 

Under this national plan various awareness programs would be held at schools, colleges, universities, workplaces to educate people about the ill effects of the drug. The steps are also being taken to create awareness through social, digital, print media, and inclusion of celebrities.

Principles, directors, vice chancellors of educational institution are also directed to ensure that no drugs are being sold within or near the school premises or campus.

The ministry with the help of enforcement agencies will control the sale of sedatives, painkillers, muscle relaxant drugs etc. Cyber cell will also monitor that there is no online sale of drugs or any other related substances.

Directions are also given to the state and union territories to prepare action plan to ensure there is facility of de-addiction centres in each district and to also establish separate and specialized de-addiction treatment centres. States and Union Territories also need to ensure that proper treatment is given to the criminals who are lodged in prisons, juvenile homes and children homes.

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment along with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), AIIMS, New Delhi will conduct national survey to know the number people who are suffering from substance use disorder.   

A committee will also be constituted under the chairmanship of the secretary of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment along with the representatives from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Skill development and Entrepreneurship. The committee will hold meeting every quarter to monitor whether NAPDDR is being effectively implemented or not.

Conclusion

Drug Abuse is a very complicated problem which affects the victim’s life. In order to overcome the problem of drug addiction it is very important for the person to bring major changes in itself. The legal framework which is present is based on a solid foundation. But people are still consuming psychotropic substances which are easily available in the market. Another major problem which is being faced is that school going children have become addicted to psychotropic substances. It is very important that laws are implemented efficiently by the concerned authorities at the ground level. It will help India become a drug-free country which will ultimately decrease the number of crimes in the country and increase the wellbeing of the people.

Suggestions

It is very important that priority should be given to the health and welfare of the drug addicted people. The number of treatment centers in the country is quiet less. Government of India should take efforts to increase the number of treatment centers at national level. Non-government organizations (NGOs) should conduct awareness programs in societies and in schools to sensitize people about how drugs are not good for health and their adverse effects on the body. Parents should initiate conversation with their children if they suspect that they are consuming drugs. Various Seminars, Group Discussion Sessions, Nukkar Natak, Poster Making Competitions should be held to create awareness. Vocational training programs should be held for unemployed drug addicts. Research programs should be conducted and the information collected through these research programs on drug dependence, substance use and the repercussion on the health of the individuals who inject drugs can help to understand the war against abuse. Cooperation from everyone and at every level is necessary in order to overcome the problem of drug abuse in the country.


[1] http://socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/Magnitude_Substance_Use_India_REPORT.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 10:10 AM)

[2] http://anf.gov.pk/library/acts/Opium_act_1857.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 10:30 AM)

[3] https://lawsisto.com/Read-Central-Act/592/DANGEROUS-DRUGS-ACT-1930 (Last visited on 14th August at 10:40 AM)

[4] https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1940-23.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 10:43 AM)

[5] https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1961_en.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 11:15 AM)

[6] https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1971_en.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 11:30 AM)

[7] https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1988_en.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 2:10 PM)

[8] https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1985-61.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 2:30 PM)

[9] https://dor.gov.in/sites/default/files/NDPS-Amendment%20Act%20-%202014.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 3:15 PM)

[10]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1736438/#:~:text=(1)%20If%20any%20person%20who,conspiracy%20to%20commit%2C%20an%20offence (Last visited on 14th August at 3:30 PM)

[11] https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1988-46.pdf (Last visited on 14th August at 4:00 PM)

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