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TIME FOR INDIA TO END ITS WAR ON DRUGS?


SYNOPSIS:

The global War on Drugs has now been in motion for over 6 decades. In the 1960s-80s, with the UN passing its Single Convention on NarcoticDrugs, and later with the US President calling for an international “all-out offensive” attack against #drugwar the global community came together with rigorous contentions against the production, supply, and possession of drugs. Recent studies by the United Nations and other global think tanks however reveal that the War on Drugs has failed to meet its goals. In data collected by the United Nations, global consumption of #opiates, #cocaine and #marijuana increased by 34.5%, 27%, and 8% respectively, between 1998-2008. A 2018 report by the International #drugpolicy Consortium stated that between 2008 and 2018, drug-related deaths had increased globally by 145%. How should then countries re-evaluate their stance on drug use? Does the war need to be harsher and stricter to penalise the violators and perpetrators of #drugtrade , or would a softer approach towards rehabilitation and decriminalization lead to more positive results? As different countries reassess their response to rampant drug use, overdose deaths, and a spike in imprisonment, what should India’s stance be?


In India, the #ndpsact Act introduced in 1985 is the main legislation against drug use and #trafficking . Section 27 of the Act imposes imprisonment or fine on anyone who’s found guilty of consumption of any narcotic or psychotropic substance, irrespective of the quantity or kind of substance. The penalties for possession of such substances vary depending upon the quantity and type, following a revision of the Act in 2001. Critics argue that the harsh penalties harm personal users and harass small producers more than any bigger trafficking rackets in India. The debate on #narcotics in India has so far been limited to legalising Cannabis in recent years, and conversation on synthetic and chemical-based drugs like cocaine or MDMA continues to largely remain one-sided. Advocates for legalising Cannabis use the natural properties of the drug and its socio-religious sanction as an important factor in its legalization. Bhaang is already legal in many Indian states, and marijuana use is already prevalent in even well-monitored religious events like the Kumbh Mela or Kanwad Yatras. It would also support the creation of more jobs and would lead to an economic boost through increased taxation, and benefit the small farmers and businesses that could legally be regulated for production and supply. The #ncb however warns against these “surface-level” benefits. Cannabis-induced psychosis, frequent relapses in cannabis addicts and the economic repercussions on marginalised consumers are some reasons expressed by the NCB to continue their suppression of the recreational use of this drug.


While the conversation zooms in on marijuana use, what about other hard drugs like MDMA, Cocaine, and Heroin which are widely consumed and lead to the most number of deaths in #punjab , #himachalpradesh Pradesh, #uttarpradesh Pradesh, and #sikkim ? While India continues violent task force interventions to stop such drugs from entering society, the numbers of users continue to rise.


SPEAKERS:

Tripti Tandon : Tripti Tandon is a Delhi based lawyer and Deputy Director with the Lawyers Collective, one of the oldest human rights organisations in India. Ms.Tandon has spearheaded the work on HIV, law and criminalisation, more specifically on drug policy and human rights. She has directly contributed to the changes to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, which the Indian Parliament adopted in 2014.


Dr. Atul Ambekar : Dr. Ambekar is a faculty at National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He is also a member of various expert bodies including Expert advisory panel on drug dependence (WHO) and Strategic Advisory Group on Injecting Drug Use (UN).


Abhishek Mohan : Mr. Abhishek Mohan is the founder and CEO at Hempstreet. Hempstreet is a research to retail company in the medicinal cannabis sector with a network of 60,000 ayurvedic practitioners across the country.


Dr. Vikram Singh : Dr. Vikram Singh is an Indian educationist and retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He joined the IPS in 1974, and held the post of Director General of Police in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He is an NHRC award winner and has received various national and international awards for his service.


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