Drug abuse and the development of drug laws in India

Drug abuse and the development of drug laws in India

Narcotics drugs and psychotropic substance have been regarded as one of the worst enemies of the human through centuries and continued to be regarded so as in this technological and scientific age. Drug abuse and drug trafficking is a global phenomenon, has acquired the dimension of an epidemic, affects the economic policies of the state, corrupts the system, and is also detrimental to the future of the country. The illicit trafficking and abuse of these drugs are rising at alarming rates, highlighting the adverse effect of trafficking and abuse of narcotics, the apex court in The state of Punjab v Baldev Singh [1] has observed:

Drug abuse is a social malady. While drug addiction eats into the vitals of society, Drug trafficking not only eats into the vital of the economy of the country but illicit money generated by drug trafficking is often used for illicit activities including the encouragement of terrorist activities. There is no doubt that drug trafficking, trading, and its use, which is a global phenomenon and has acquired the dimension of an epidemic. It also affects the economy of the state, corrupts the system, and it’s detrimental to the future of the country. It has the effect of producing a sick society and harmful culture.

The United Nations Conventions Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropics substances which was conducted in Vienna, Australia in 1998 was perhaps the first effort, at an international level to tackle the menace of drug trafficking throughout the comity of the nations. The then government of India has also ratified this convection

In recent times, there has been significant development of communication systems and mean of transportation. This has also led to a considerable increase in narcotics and drug trafficking. The drug traffickers have been able to flourish despite stringent punishments provided under the ‘Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic substances Act’. This resulted in seriously hampering the socio-economic growth and multiple dimensional growths of the country. To deal with the rising drug problems, the community of nations evolved a global machine control mechanism intended to limit the availability of drugs only for medical and scientific purposes.

Development of drug laws in India

Drugs availability nowadays is quite often worldwide. There are millions of lives are on the line between life and death in miserable conditions, due to the intake to drug and psychotropic substances. The drug is now recognized at the global level as one of the major dangers faced by humanity. Drug abuse is no longer confined to any cultural and or social-economic strata of society but has proliferated amongst all cases.

In the present scenario narcotics interdiction, successful prosecution of drug traffickers, and annihilating organized drug trafficking syndicate is a challenge for law enforcement agencies. Herbal cannabis and opium have been traditional drug abuse in India. In the changing course of time, the abuse of herbal cannabis or ganja attends considerable religious sanctity mainly because of its coordination with some Hindu dairies. India’s narcotic problem arises pre-dominantly due to its proximity to the two major opium-producing regions which flank the country on either side, namely The Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the west and Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos) on the east. Nepal is also a traditional producer of cannabis of both herbal and resinous, further being a licit producer of raw opium for medical and research purpose, there is a chance of leakage from the licit to illicit channel despite stringent control

The broad legislative policy mechanism in this matter is contained in three central acts, viz. drugs and cosmetics act, 1940, the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances act,1985, and the prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic act,1988. The responsibility of drug abuse control, which is a central function, is carried out through several ministers, departments, and organizations. This includes the ministry of finance, department of revenue which is having the noodle co-ordination role as administrators of the Narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances act,1985(NDPS act), and the prevention of illicit trafficking in narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances act, 1988(PITNDPS acts). The narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November 1985, made an express provision for constituting a central authority to exercise the power and functions of the central government under the act. In the exercise of powers, the NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) was constituted with headquarters at Delhi with effect from 17th March 1986. The bureau, subject to the supervision and the control of the central government, exercises the powers and function of the central government.

The objectives of the policies are regulation of the production and supply of distribution of narcotics drug and psychotropic substance for medical and scientific research purpose, complete prohibition of consumption or use of such drugs, substance and treatment, counseling, de-addiction, and social rehabilitation of drug addicts in the larger interest of the society. The last one is a humanitarian and philanthropic angle that was absent in pre-1985 drug law in India. Therefore, if these objectives have to be fulfilled, there should be a vastly improved and cooperative coordination among the enforcement agencies.

National policy on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance is based on the directive principles contained in Art 47 of the Indian Constitution which directs that the “state shall endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumptions, except for medical uses of intoxicating drugs injury to health” the government’s policy on the subject which flows from the above said constitutional provision is also guided by the international conventions on the subjects. India is a signatory to;

*1961 single convention in Narcotic drug as amended by 1972 protocol.

*Convention on psychotropic substances 1971

*United Nations conventions against illicit narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances 1988.


Drug abuse is a social evil. Narcotics and other dependence producing substances have been used in world in one form or another since time immemorial just like any virus use of drugs and drug trafficking knows no bound or limitation. It spreads all over the world from one nation to another infecting every civilized society irrespective of caste creed culture and geographical location. As early in 1917, Mahatma Gandhi while addressing the all India social services conference in Calcutta had said: The cocaine hobbit was sapping the nation manhood, and that like the drink habits it was on the increase its effect deadlier than drink

[1] [1] AIR 1999 SC 2378

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