Cannabis smoking in India dates back to almost 2000 BC and mention of it can also be found in the Atharvaveda. In present time, the problem has become more intense due to the discovery of a variety of strong and harmful drugs and an increase in the number of people becoming addicted to drugs. Until the year 1985, several drugs like Bhang, marijuana, charas etc. were legally sold and consumed in India and their recreational use was considered very normal and was viewed on the common grounds as consumption of alcohol. In the year 1961, the United States of America emphasized on the need of a worldwide Law against drug usage by the adoption of Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and by the year 1985, India who had originally opposed this succumbed to the pressure by America and therefore enacted the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. This Act puts a prohibition on the production/manufacturing/ cultivation, transport, selling, storage, purchase and/or consumption of Narcotic Drugs of Psychotropic substances. The Act which is also commonly referred to as the NDPS Act came into force on 14 November, 1985 and has been amended thrice in the years 1988, 2001 and 2014. The Act sets up a Narcotics Control bureau which is a body overlooking a ban on the Psychotropic substances and Narcotic drugs.
The NDPS Act has faced criticisms on several occasions since its inception. The Times of India criticized the Act describing it as “ill conceived” and “poorly thought out” as the Act provided same punishment for all drugs which gave a way out to drug dealers to deal in harder drugs which are far more harmful but have a higher profit margin. The Act was much needed due to the increasing problem of drug addiction in India but it still needs strict enforcement to tackle the problem and several changes need to be made including the distinction in the category of drugs and the distinction in the degree of punishment awarded for the use of the same drugs.
Authored by Vishwaraj Panwar | Edited by Prerna Sharma.