Drugs and Law
Drugs & Law in Sri Lanka
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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.
Drugs & Law in Nepal
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The Government of Nepal has ratified the two UN Conventions related to narcotic drugs, namely, the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1961 (as amended by the 1972 Protocol) and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988. Nepal is still not a party to the 1971 Convention.
In Nepal, the Narcotics Drugs (Control) Act, 2033 (1976) is the legal framework for drug control issues. Section 3(a) stipulates narcotic drugs as: cannabis, medicinal cannabis, opium, processed opium, plants and leaves of coca, any substance prepared with mixing opium, coca extract which include mixtures or salts, any natural or synthetic narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and their salts and other substance as may be specified by the Nepal Gazette notification. Any person violating this act shall be punished by up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine. While the non–physician prescribed consumption of narcotics drugs is a criminal offence the Act has provision for the prevention and treatment of drug users. Rules under this Act have, as yet, not been framed.
The Narcotics Drug Control Act from 1976 was subject to a comprehensive and important amendment in 1993. The Act was revised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and reviewed by the Ministry of Law. The amendment which came into force on 14 June 1993 included: (i) incorporation of the SAARC convention of 1992 on Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, (ii) inclusion of the provisions of the 1961 Single Convention (including the 1972 Protocol amending that Convention) and the 1988 UN Convention on Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, (iii) legalization of controlled delivery, (iv) increased penalties for drug offences, (v) an asset seizure section, (vi) a section on money laundering (including a bank secrecy act), (vii) legislation of advanced investigation techniques and methods of gathering evidence such as wire tapping (including room and telephone bugging) and surveillance photography, (viii) authorization of NDCLEU to prosecute drug law offences, (ix) a reward scheme, and (x) the destruction of seized drugs.
Following these amendments, discussions were held during the period 1994–1995 between UNDCP and HMGN regarding the formulation of separate legislation in the areas of money laundering, asset forfeiture and criminal conspiracy. Terms of Reference were developed for a UNDCP legal mission for finalizing these matters. A legal consultation mission to Nepal was carried out. Working together with a government lawyer with considerable experience in narcotics control, the mission successfully drafted: (i) an amendment to the Narcotics Drug Control Act, (ii) a Witness Protection Act, (iii) a Mutual Legal Assistance Act, (iv) a Crime Proceeds Act, and (v) a Controlled Chemicals, Equipment and Materials Rule Act. The draft bills were translated into Nepalese by a local translator and submitted to HMGN for consideration. The Ministry of Home Affairs however considered the bills to be too complex in their draft form and therefore deemed them not suitable for local conditions for Nepal.
Institutions and National Policy
The Department of Narcotics Control and Disaster Management, under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has overarching responsibility for narcotics issues in Nepal. The MHA has established a National Co–ordination Committee for Drug Abuse Control (NCC) under the Home Minister. This includes the Secretaries of Home, Health, Finance, Education, Foreign Affairs and Communications, together with the Inspector General of Police, Members and Secretary of the Planning Commission, and members of NGOs and other professional organizations. Generally, it has met less than once a year. Below the NCC is an Executive Committee, of which members include joint secretaries from the ministries of Education, Finance, Law and Justice, Health, and Women and Social Welfare, a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), National Project Director of the Drug Abuse Demand Reduction Project, and the Chief of the National Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit (NDCLEU). This committee meets more regularly than the NCC, and is working towards closer co–operation and co–ordination of national efforts, and a strengthening of management procedures, policy and strategy.
The jurisdiction of the Home Ministry has been defined by His Majesty’s Government’s (Functional Division) Regulation, 1996 A.D. There are 3 Divisions, 6 Departments, 5 Regional Administration Offices, 75 District Administration Offices, 75 District Police Offices and 73 Jails under this ministry. The Department of Narcotic Control and Disaster Management (DNCMD) in the Ministry of Home Affairs handles narcotic issues.
The HIV/AIDS programme in the country is part of the activities of the Ministry of Health. The national coordinating body for HIV/AIDS prevention and control is the National AIDS Coordination Committee (NACC), which is chaired by the Health Minister. There is a need for closer cooperation between the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health in matters relating to drug–related HIV/AIDS.
Drugs & Law in India
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Yes. Possession of drugs is in itself an offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act). It does not matter whether the possession is for personal consumption or for any other purpose. The punishment depends upon the quantity of drugs he possesses. However, if he is charged with either possession of small quantities of drugs or with consumption of drugs and he voluntarily seeks to undergo medical treatment for de– addiction from a hospital or an institution maintained or recognized by the government or a local authority, he shall not be liable for prosecution. This immunity from prosecution may be withdrawn if he does not undergo the complete treatment for de–addiction.
Then the quantity of drugs she is found with may exceed what is considered “Small” and she will be dealt with accordingly. The penalty for possession of various quantities of drugs is shown below:
|Small quantity||Up to 6 months rigorous imprisonment or fine up to Rs. 10,000 or both|
|More than small quantity but less than commercial quantity||Up to 10 years rigorous imprisonment and fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.|
|Commercial quantity||Rigorous imprisonment of 10 to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 2,00,000|
How much drug is considered small or commercial quantity?
The quantities differ with the type of drug and are notified by the government. The quantities for a few common drugs are below:
|Drug||Small Quantity*||Commercial Quantity**|
|Heroin||5 grams||250 grams|
|Cocaine||2 grams||100 grams|
|Hashish/Charas1 Kg||100 grams||1 Kg|
|Opium||25 grams||2.5 kg|
|Ganja||1 Kg||20 Kg|
** Any quantity below the prescribed limit is Commercial quantity
Will he get any consideration for his young age under the law?
Yes. If he is less than 18 years of age, then a special law called the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act applies for any offence, which he may commit under any law including NDPS Act.
Know a drug peddler – who should I report this to?
To the nearest police station. Delhi police also has a special narcotics cell headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police. You could also report it to any officer of state excise, customs, central excise. Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, or Central Bureau of Investigation, all of whom are empowered to take action under the law.
Is there any age when one can legally use drugs?
No. Drug use is not like alcohol or smoking. It is illegal for anyone of any age to use drugs.
Is there any quantity of a drug (esp. weed) that one can carry legally?
No. Possession of drugs is an offence no matter how large or small. Some drugs such as diazepam, buprenorphine, proxyvone have medical uses. You can buy and use such drugs if the doctor prescribes it. The pharmacists selling them and the companies manufacturing them also have licences under the law.
What if the amount of drug I’m carrying is less than what is prescribed as a “Small quantity” under the law?
If you carry any quantity below the threshold prescribed as small quantity, you will be punishable for possession of small quantity of drug.
Who is liable in the following situations?
My friends are using drugs on my property (we are all adults)
If you knowingly allow them to use your property to use drugs, you will be liable for the same punishment as those using drugs. If they used it without your knowledge, then you are not liable.
My friends are using drugs on my property (we are minors). In this case, would my parents be held responsible?
If you are a minor, it is likely that the property is in the name of your parents. They will be liable for punishment if they knowingly allow your friends to use drugs in their premises. As minors, your friends may enjoy protection under the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, which means you will be sent to a remand home instead of jail. However, your parents, being adults, will be sentenced for allowing their premises to be used for using drugs. It is better to play safe. If you suspect someone is likely to use drugs on your premises, DO NOT allow them to use your premises.
Drugs & Law in Maldives
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The Government of the Republic of Maldives has ratified all the three UN conventions related to narcotic drugs, namely, the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1961 (as amended by the 1972 Protocol), the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
Official recognition of the drug problem came in 1977 when a person was arrested with 350 grams of hashish. As a result, the first principal legislative act of the Maldives dealing with narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (Law No 17/77 – The Law on Drugs) was passed the same year in order to help the legal system deal with it, and to act as a deterrent. The Law on Narcotics Drugs (Law No. 17/77) is the principal Legislative Act of the Maldives dealing with narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances. Since the adoption of the Law on Narcotics Drugs, the many social and economic changes brought in the country have resulted in the increase of the magnitude and nature of the problem. Hence, the Government in 1995 introduced substantial amendments to Law No. 17/77.
The First Amendment to Law No. 17/77 (Law on Narcotics Drugs) of 1995 also contains two tables, one is a list of illegal drugs and the other is a list of controlled substances. Both of these tables have been drawn up according to the schedules of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (as amended by the 1972 Protocol) and United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971. The First Amendment to Law No. 17/77 makes a significant distinction between users and suppliers. While drug suppliers have been prescribed harsher punishment (provision for prescribing life imprisonment sentences for the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale and possession for sale of narcotic drugs), the amendment looks at users less harshly. They are generally given opportunities to reform and become useful members of the society. Thus they receive suspended sentences and may enter a Drug Rehabilitation Centre. After rehabilitation, they are released on parole for a prescribed period after which the sentence is annulled. The amendment also provides legal immunity for those who opt for voluntary rehabilitation.
One–third of the respondents in the RSA reported that they could get drugs within the prison. The report suggests that there are more than 800 drug users currently in prison. A lack of any therapeutic intervention means that very little is done to motivate drug users to quit their habit. The banishment of drug users to different islands was felt to be counter–productive by many key informants since this only displaced the problem from one region to another. There is an expressed need for a model for therapeutic intervention in prisons.
Drugs & Law in Bhutan
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A high percentage of Bhutan’s population is adolescents and youth (63% of the population is younger than 24 years), and this percentage is predicted to rise. This will add to the HIV/AIDS risk. The incidence of other STDs is high with annual rates of gonorrhea standing at 2% and syphilis only slightly lower (UNDP 2003b.)
The Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic substances notification of 1996 is the legal tool for the regulation of Narcotic drugs and Psychotropic substances. The Government of Bhutan is currently engaged in activities to sensitize various agencies involved in the control and regulation of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors. A National Drug Control Committee was formed in December 2004. Legislation is being drafted and procedures are being finalized for precursor controls. Required certification and notification procedures are in the process of being established.
he Bhutan Penal Code is under consideration of the national assembly. If the code is passed, it can be used for controlling drugs and precursors also by framing appropriate rules and regulations under the Code.
The prisoners are provided with treatment at the Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Bhutan. A Medical Officer, Health Assistant, Assistant Nurse and two non–medical staff man the Unit. Health records of the individual prisoners are maintained and minor ailments of the prisoners are treated at BHU itself. The medical officer visits the BHU once a week for the routine checkups. The prisoners who need further investigation are referred to concerned medical specialists as and when required. Emergency services are available 24–hours–a–day. Health Education programmes are provided on a regular basis.