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Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

  • 01 Sep 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Marijuana, Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances, Bhang, Charas, ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign.

For Mains: Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Why in News?

Recently, Karnataka High Court said that Bhang is nowhere referred to as a prohibited drink or prohibited drug as per Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.

  • The court relied on two earlier judgments, Madhukar vs the State of Maharashtra, 2002 and Arjun Singh vs State of Haryana, 2004, where the courts had ruled that bhang is not ganja, and is therefore not covered under the NDPS Act.
  • Earlier, Thailand has legalized cultivating and possessing Marijuana but recreational use (Such as smoking) is still banned.

What is Bhang?

  • About:
    • Bhang is the edible preparation made from the leaves of the cannabis plant, often incorporated into drinks such as thandai and lassi, along with various foods.
    • Bhang has been consumed in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, and is frequently consumed during the festivals of Holi and Mahashivratri.
  • Law:
    • The NDPS Act is the main legislation, enacted in 1985, that deals with drugs and their trafficking.

What are the Provisions of the NDPS Act?

  • Defines Cannabis as a Narcotic Drug:
    • The NDPS Act defines cannabis (hemp) as a narcotic drug based on the parts of the plant that come under its purview. The Act lists these parts as:
      • Charas: The separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish.
      • Ganja: The flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they are known or designated.
      • Any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.
    • The Act, in its definition, excludes seeds and leaves “when not accompanied by the tops”.
    • Bhang is not mentioned in the NDPS Act.
  • Punishment:
    • Section 20 of the NDPS Act lays out the punishment for the production, manufacture, sale, purchase, import and inter-state export of cannabis, as defined in the Act. The prescribed punishment is based on the amount of drugs seized.
    • It also provides for death penalty in some cases where a person is a repeat offender.

What is the State of Crime under NDPS Act?

  • Punjab topped the list of crime rate as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recent data for 2021.
    • Punjab recorded 32.8% crime rate in 2021, which was the highest in the country.
  • Himachal Pradesh ended second, notching a crime rate of 20.8% followed by Arunachal Pradesh that reported NDPS Act crime rate of 17.2%, followed by Kerala (16%).
  • The lowest crime rate under NDPS Act in 2021 was reported from UT Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (0.5%), followed by the states of Gujarat (0.7%) and Bihar (1.2%).

What are the Initiatives to Tackle Drug Addiction?

  • The Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) was constituted in 2016 and the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control” was revived.
  • Seizure Information Management System will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
    • Project Sunrise: It was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016, to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India, especially among people injecting drugs.
  • ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question


Q. India’s proximity to the two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What counter-measures should be taken to prevent the same? (2018)

Source: IE

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