Mukherjee releases National Policy on Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 6, 2012

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today released the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which he said presented evidence of India’s strong commitment and intent to rise to the challenges posed by the drug menace. 
"It also reflects the country’s willingness to shoulder the responsibility which is cast upon it because of its strategic position, sandwiched between two major regions of the world producing illicit narcotics, and on account of being a traditional cultivator of licit opium and a supplier of this raw material for medical and scientific needs of pharmaceutical industry, which makes use of such narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to make critical medicines," he said.
Among other things, the policy attempts to curb the menace of drug abuse and contains provisions for treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of victims of drug abuse. The Government hopes the implementation of the provisions of the policy will lead to reduction of crime, improvement in public health and uplifting of the social milieu. 
Mukherjee recalled that he had, while presenting the Budget for 2011-12, stated that trafficking in narcotic drugs was also a contributor to the generation of  black money in India and had accordingly announced the Government’s intent to bring out a comprehensive national policy to strengthen controls over prevention of trafficking and improving the management of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. 
"Today, the entire mankind is confronted with the problem of drugs in some form or the other. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in the World Drug Report of 2011 has estimated that between 149 and 272 million people or 3.3 to 6.1% of the World’s population aged 15-64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. 
"What is more alarming is the fact that this number has increased since the late 1990s. It is obvious that the international community needs to raise the level of response to the challenge posed by drugs, and India, which is home to one-sixth of the global population, has an added responsibility in this regard," he said, adding that the policy was one such effort by the Government.
Mukherjee said the problem of drugs was compounded by the fact that the types of drugs, which are abused, did not remain the same. 
He said that the world over  perceptible shift had been noticed from abuse of the so-called traditional drugs like heroin or cocaine, to synthetic and prescription drugs. While all drugs are bad, the effect of synthetic drugs on the human body is far worse than in other forms of drug abuse. 
"For certain synthetic drugs, a single dose is sufficient to make the person an ‘addict’ of the drug and such a person does not have any control over his senses. He/she can then commit any other crime just to have access to more of such drugs. It is this, that makes trafficking of drugs, such a unique form of criminal activity. It not only creates a victim in the person subjected to drug abuse, it also creates in him, a perpetrator of other crimes, which leads to further criminal activity," he said.
The Minister said he could not overemphasize the degree of vigilance that needed to be exercised by policy makers and law enforcement officers the world over on matters relating to drugs. 
"I am happy that in the form of the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance, there is evidence of such vigilance, by India," he said.
"Apart from the obvious damage to the health of individuals and society, an obvious offshoot of drug trafficking activity is the quantum of black money that it generates. While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact numbers, I am told that the UNODC estimates the quantum of global market in illicit drugs to be of the order of several hundred billion dollars. The deleterious effect of this quantum of black economy in the world can well be imagined. That this money can then finance several other forms of criminal activity including terror financing and other forms of transnational organized crime does not require much elaboration," he said.
The following are the highlights of the new policy:
(i) The policy recommends production of Concentrate of Poppy Straw (CPS) in India by a company or body corporate. This would enable India to retain its status of a traditional supplier of Opiate Raw Material (ORM) to the rest of world, while remaining competitive. 
(ii) The consumption of poppy straw by addicts will be gradually reduced and finally stopped in a time frame decided by the States. 
(iii) On the illicit cultivation of poppy and cannabis, the policy emphasizes use of satellite imageries for detection of illicit crop and its subsequent eradication and development of alternate means of livelihood in respect of cultivators in pockets of traditional illicit cultivation. 
(iv) The private sector may be allowed production of alkaloids from opium. At present alkaloids from opium are produced only in Government Opium and Alkaloid Factories (GOAFs). 
(v) Non-intrusive methods of regulating the manufacture, trade and use of such psychotropic substances will be introduced, 
(vi) Emphasis will be laid on adequate access to morphine and other opioids necessary for palliative care, a strategy to address street peddlers of drugs, periodic surveys of drug abuse to gauge the extent, pattern and nature of drug abuse in the country, recognition of de-addiction centers, 
(vii) There will be a time bound plan of action, detailing the steps to be taken by different Ministries/ Departments/ agencies, in response to the recommendations of the International Narcotics Control Board.