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    Drugs and Narcotics

    Indian law on drugs is strict and prohibits various activities associated with drugs such as growing, manufacturing, possessing, using, selling and trafficking drugs. The central, as well as state governments, are conferred with powers to control and regulate activities.

    Banned Substances

    The use, production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transportation, importing and exporting of various substances are regulated in India with many substances being banned. A full list of substances can be found here. Punishment regarding any activities involving these substances is based on the quantity of the banned substance.

    Buprenorphine

    Buprenorphine is a psychotropic substance which has been added to the list of existing psychotropic substances by this notification. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of Buprenorphine as well as using it are banned in India with the punishment for carrying them out proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Amount (up to 1 gram): Rigorous imprisonment for up to one year, and/or fine up to Rs. 10,000.
    • Commercial Amount (greater than 20 grams): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 by recording reasons in the judgment).
    • Greater than 1g and less than 20g: Rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, and with fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.

    Cannabis/Ganja/Charas

    As many different kinds of drugs are derived from a single source/plant, Indian law prescribes punishment for that main component, and classifies different quantities of the derivatives that are punishable.

    Cannabis means charas, ganja or any other mixture, with or without any neutral material of either charas or ganja, or any drink prepared from it. They have been explained in detail below, along with the quantities of which warrant different punishments.

    Ganja is only the flowering part or the part that becomes the fruit, of the cannabis plant. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of Ganja as well as using it are banned in India with the punishment for carrying them out proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Amount (up to 1kg): Rigorous imprisonment up to one year, and fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.
    • Commercial Amount (greater than 20kg): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 by recording reasons in the judgment)
    • Greater than small amount but less than commercial: Rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years, and fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.

    Charas, is the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import inter-state, export inter-state or even its use has been in India with the punishment for carrying them out is proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Amount (up to 100g): Rigorous imprisonment up to one year, and fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.
    • Commercial Amount (greater than 1kg): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding two lakh rupees by recording reasons in the judgment)
    • Greater than small amount but less than commercial: Rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years, and fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.

    Coca Derivative

    Coca derivative, would be the coca leaf or the coca plant from which drugs like ecgonine and cocaine are derived from. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of any coca derivative, as well as using it, are banned in India. Unlike other drugs where the punishment is in proportion its quantity, in this instance, the law punishes all quantities with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and fine which may extend to Rs. 1,00,000.

    The following are the drugs derived from coca plant and coca leaf:

    • Crude cocaine (extract of coca leaf)
    • Ecgonine and all its derivatives
    • Cocaine (Methyl ester of benzoyl-ecognine) and its salts
    • All preparations containing more than 0.1 percent of cocaine.

    Opium

    Opium Poppy is the base plant from which opium is extracted. Opium is a white juice that is extracted from the poppy plant with the help of scalps in a very careful manner. Opium Poppy is the plant of the species Papaver somniferum L, and the plant of any other species of Papaver from which opium or any phenanthrene alkaloid can be extracted and which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be opium poppy.

    The derivatives of opium are:

    • Medical Opium: Opium which has undergone the process necessary to adapt it for medical use in accordance with the requirements of the central government.
    • Morphine: It is also known as Morf, Mud, Goma or Morpho etc. It is a refined version of opium which is formed by mixing opium gum with Lime water and a few organic solvents.
    • Heroine: Heroine is also known as Brown Sugar, Crap, Smack, Horse, Mexican Mud, Big H and Junk etc. Heroine is made when morphine is further refined by treating it with acetylene anhydride (AC20).
    • Codeine: It is another derivative of opium which is very commonly found in cough syrups.
    • Poppy straw: It is the husk left after the opium is extracted from the pods. It contains small quantities of morphine and can be used as a drug.

    The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of any opium derivative as well as using it are banned in India with the punishment for carrying them out proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Quantity (up to 1 kg): Rigorous imprisonment for up to one year, and/or fine up to Rs. 10,000.
    • Commercial Quantity (greater than 50 kg): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 by recording reasons in the judgment)

    Amphetamine

    Amphetamine is a psychotropic substance listed in the Schedule to the NDPS Act. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of Amphetamine as well as using it are banned in India with the punishment for carrying them out proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Quantity (up to 2g): Rigorous imprisonment for up to one year, and/or fine up to Rs. 10,000.
    • Commercial Quantity (greater than 50 grams): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 by recording reasons in the judgment)
    • Greater than small amount but less than commercial: Rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, and with fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.

    Diazepam

    Diazepam is a psychotropic substance listed in the Schedule to the NDPS Act. The production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import and export of Amphetamine as well as using it are banned in India with the punishment for carrying them out proportional to the amount of the substance and not the type of activity.

    • Small Amount (up to 20 grams): Rigorous imprisonment for up to one year, and/or fine up to Rs. 10,000.
    • Commercial Amount (greater than 500 grams): Rigorous imprisonment between 10 years and 20 years, and fine between Rs. 1,00,000 and Rs. 2,00,000. (The Court may impose fine exceeding Rs. 2,00,000 by recording reasons in the judgment)
    • Greater than 20g but less than 500g: Rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, and with fine up to Rs. 1,00,000.

    Illegal actions pertaining to drugs

    With the exception of medical or scientific purposes, the following actions are illegal

    • Growing any cocoa plant or gathering any portion of the cocoa plant.
    • Growing opium poppy or any cannabis plant.
    • Extracting raw materials from its source to make a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Making or transforming something into a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Possessing any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Selling any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Purchasing any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Carrying any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance from one place to another.
    • Housing large quantities of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Using a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Consuming a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
    • Bringing in drugs into another state or a union territory in India.
    • Taking drugs out of a state or union territory in India.
    • Importing drugs into India from another country.
    • Taking drugs out of India to another country.

    Drug Arrest

    A person who is being searched under this Act has a right to request be taken to the nearest Gazetted officer or the nearest Magistrate without unnecessary delay. The officer can detain the person only until he is taken to the Magistrate or the Gazetted Officer.

    The magistrate or the Gazetted Officers shall order for search only when he finds reasonable ground for search. If there are no reasonable grounds for the search, then the person is discharged.

    Note: No female shall be searched by anyone except a female officer.

    However, if an officer has reasons to believe that a person will part away with the narcotic drug or the psychotropic substance or controlled substance or article or document, he may search that person according to the section 100 of the Crpc. In such cases, the officer should record his reasons as to why he believes such a search was necessary. A copy of this shall also be sent to his immediate senior officer within 72 hours.

    Government License to Produce a Drug

    If you are licence holder, you can also be punished for violating any of the conditions of the license. You will be punished under the relevant section for that drug or substance and based on the quantity. As a license holder, you can also be punished for:

    • Not maintaining proper accounts or returns
    • Not showing the license to a government officer when she asks for it
    • Making false accounts or statements knowingly
    • Purposely violating the conditions of a license, permit or authorization even if there is no specific penalty mentioned under the Act

    Please note that you can also be punished if you are employed by someone who has a license or is an agent of a person who has been granted a license.

    Questions and Answers
    Click on a question to view the answer

    Yes, if an officer catches you smoking weed, you can be punished with imprisonment up to one year, or a fine of up to Rs. 20,000, or both.

    If you are a drug addict who has been caught consuming a small amount of drugs, you could voluntarily seek to undergo medical treatment for de-addiction. The Court will direct that you be released for undergoing such treatment for detoxification or de-addiction from a hospital or an institution maintained or recognised by the government.

    But it is important to note this option is available only if/when you’ve been caught consuming a small quantity. For every other offence, the Act strictly does not allow commutation or reduction of sentence.

    The Act provides for punishment of officers who, without reasonable grounds of suspicion, enter or search and seize property and arrest people. Their punishment is of imprisonment up to six months, or fine or both. Any person who gives wrongful information to the officers, who further carry out the search, seizure and arrest of this information, is also punishable by imprisonment for up to two years, fine or both.

    Yes, a seizure can happen in a public place. The authorised officer, in this case, can seize in any public place or in transit and drugs or substances which he suspects is punishable under the Act. He can also seize any animal, conveyance or article, which can be confiscated under this Act. It is also important to note that the officer can detain and search any person who has any drugs or substances in his possession which appears to him as unlawful.

    If the authorized officer has exhausted all lawful means to stop an animal or conveyance, which he believes is being used for transportation of drugs, only then he can fire upon that animal or conveyance.

    Seizing occurs when an authorized officer conducting an inquiry or investigation, has reason to believe that the property being investigated is likely to be concealed, transferred or dealt with in a manner that might hinder the proceedings relating to the forfeiture of property. Where it is not possible to seize the property, the officer may order to freeze it and it can only be transferred or dealt with, with his permission.

    Yes, knowingly letting someone use your house or vehicle for storing or handling illegal drugs is punishable under this law. It is understood as committing of the offence itself. You will be punishable with the punishment provided for that offence. Letting someone use your animal or conveyance knowing the purpose for which the animal or conveyance is going to be used is also an offence.

    If the crime you have been accused of involves small or intermediate quantities of illegal drugs or substances, then you can apply for bail to the police officer. The police officer has to grant you bail if you are able to pay the bail amount and get sureties.

    If the crime you have been accused of involves commercial quantities of illegal drugs or substances, then you cannot automatically get bail. The other types of crimes for which this procedure must be followed are when it involves stealing of opium, dealing drugs abroad, funding trafficking or sheltering someone who is trafficking.

    The police are supposed to produce you before a Magistrate or Special Court within 24 hours after arresting you. You will have to make an application to the Magistrate or Special Court for bail. The public prosecutor (lawyer representing the government) will be given an opportunity to contest your bail. The court can then grant you bail if it is reasonably satisfied that you are innocent and that you are not likely to flee.

    Glossary
    Charas
    The organic substance obtained from the cannabis plant and includes hashish oil or liquid hashish.
    Ganja
    Flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excludes the seeds and leaves).
    Crude cocaine
    Any extract of coca leaf which can be used for the manufacture of cocaine.
    Ecgonine
    Organic chemical found naturally in coca leaves
    Opium
    Solidified juice of the opium poppy
    Medicinal opium
    Opium which has been adapted for medicinal use in accordance with the requirements of the Indian Pharmacopoeia/any other pharmacopoeia notified by the Central Government.
    Prepared opium
    Any opium product designed to transform opium into an extract suitable for smoking, and the residue after opium is smoked.
    Phenanthrene alkaloids
    Morphine, codeine, thebaine
    Diacetylmorphine
    Heroin
    Poppy Straw
    Any part of the opium poppy plant (not including seeds) after harvest which is usually cut, crushed or powdered. Usually the poppy husk, known as 'bhukki' in some parts.
    Manufactured drug
    A manufactured drug is usually a drug where some process has made the drug more concentrated.
    Psychotropic Substances
    A psychotropic substance is any substance, natural or synthetic, or any natural material or any salt, compound, mixture or preparation of such substance or material included in the list of psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act
    Trafficking
    Dealing or trading in something illegal
    Cognizable offence
    An offence for which a police officer may arrest the offender without a warrant.