The poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance of 1935 which has undergone many amendments, most recently in 1984 (Act no. 13) is the Principal statutory enactment regulating poisons, opium and dangerous drugs in the country.
Other statutes with provisions relating to drugs include:
- The Penal Code (Ordinance no. 2 of 1983 as subsequently amended) in particular Chapter 14 which covers public health and safety.
- The Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act (Act no.27 of 1980, as amended by Act no 38 of 1984) The Act regulates manufacture, sale and distribution, Labeling and advertising of all commercial drugs.
- The Ayurveda Act (Act no. 31 of 1961 as amended by Act no 5 of 1962) entitles ayurvedic physicians to obtain opium and ganja for manufacturer of their medicinal preparations.
- The Customs Ordinance (Ordinance no. 17 of 1869, as subsequently amended) schedule B of this ordinance contains lists of substances with prohibitions and restrictions on both import & export.
The Standard drug associated arrests are for trafficking, sale and possession. Under the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance acts considered crimes include possession, consumption and manufacture of illicit drugs (including any process in producing, refining or transforming them). Also it is a crime to sell, give, obtain, procure, store, administer, transport, send, deliver, distribute, traffic, import or export such drugs and aid or abet in the commission of such offences.
The penalties for drug offences now range from fines to death or life imprisonment. The penalty of death (which Sri Lankan courts have interpreted as non-mandatory) or life imprisonment accrues for manufacture of heroin, cocaine, morphine or opium and the trafficking, possession, import or export of a minimum amount of (a) 500 grams of heroin (b) 3 grams of morphine (c) 2 grams of cocaine or (d) 2 grams of heroin. Less severe offences including the regulatory ones warrant sentences of fines or imprisonment, the amount of the fine or the length of imprisonment depends on the quantity of drug, the gravity of the offence and the courts having jurisdiction.