- Anything related to banned drug consumption and the accompanying frenzy created by the eager media houses of all hues hits the headlines with such ferocity that the entire nation gets consumed by the relentless reportage. God forbid if any known personalities or their close relatives are found involved. All hell will break loose with no-hold-barred conspiracy theories making uninterrupted rounds claiming largely unverified sources as the origin of unsubstantiated stories. Just last year the country witnessed hyperactively and over the top media reportage for months surrounding the tragic death of a Bollywood actor as overconsumption of drugs was alleged to be the possible reason for the demise.
PC: Mahender Singh Manral
- The entire country was glued to the television and newspapers on the matter is stating the obvious. Several celebrity arrests by the Narcotics Control Bureau subsequently made headlines but hardly proved useful in the end. Thus, calls to repeal the criminalization of cannabis keeps growing when high-profile incidents come to the fore. Now the latest news about the arrest and custodial interrogation of celebrity attendees of a cruise party has again reopened the debate over the criminalization of cannabis usage. For the uninitiated, India criminalized it under American pressure in 1985 through the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
- Indeed, this was a grossly misguided step totally at variance with ground realities and ancient cultural mores associated with the country. Even now, the practice is not abhorred one bit in rural parts of the country. Note that even three decades hence, the Government of India admits that ganja and charas usage remains high i.e. 1.3 crores consumers, and 2.2. crores for bhang. Mind you, these are official figures and there might be substantially more unofficial numbers considering widespread usage in rural areas. Most interestingly, America is steadily moving on from its Reagan era macho war on all drugs, so have many other countries when it comes to cannabis.
PC: Abhinav Sekhri
- Unfortunately, India refuses to budge for reasons best known to the authorities. Add to it, most of our courts are happy to play along by bringing the hammer down on those who smoke a toke. Possession for personal use accounts for most NDPS offenses sitting on a backlog of 4 crore cases unnecessarily burdening the criminal justice system. Note that NDPS Act prescribes up to one year of rigorous imprisonment for those involved in cannabis transactions of small quantity. 1-10 years for quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity and 10-20 years for commercial quantity. It makes immense sense to evolve a three-tier gradation of offenses where, first, cannabis should be decriminalized.
- People involving in the manufacture, trafficking, and supply of hard drugs like meth, heroin cocaine must face the most prohibitive punishment. Of course, those consuming these banned substances should be tried under civil law, not criminal law, a steep fine would be an appropriate punishment. The above-mentioned measure would largely allow anti-narcotics authorities to concentrate their precious time and resources on supply chains feeding the Indian underground narcotics market and the main players running the same. Sporadic raiding of parties will entail headlines but not tangible results that really matter. Therefore, a change in the law by setting priorities would allow the investigators to handle serious matters at hand rather than chase charas-smoking partygoers.