Drug Abuse and the Legal Framework in India

11 Sep 2020  Read 7049 Views

Drug abuse is a pervasive phenomenon and a negative trend of the society. India is no way far from this vicious circle of illicit substance abuse. Excessive use of both illicit & licit substances causes public health hazards. Euphoria, stress, anxiety, depression are the outcomes of excessive drug use. A survey in India had reported that two-fifths of addicts came in conflict with the law. Almost three-fourths of addicts were unable to work at their workplaces, and addicted students could not attend to their studies.

Around 2.6 crore people in India have used or use opioids and approximately 1.18 crore people use sedatives and inhalants. Over 8.5 lakh people inject drugs into themselves and are addicted and about 14.6% of the total population of India (i.e. 16 crore people) are users of alcohol. Drug Possession, overdose, and abuse have become the most common of all crimes.

Drug Trafficking in India: How it Started?

  • Initially, the Arab Merchants arrived in India and introduced with the Opium drug that was used as a medicine or cure for diseases that later on, people started consuming on addiction. In 1912, The Hague International Opium Convention was held by Britain where Britain signed the treaty which stated- wherever the territory is captured or ruled by Britishers, the use of the Opium will remain effectual.
  • In 1930, the Colonial government enacted the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930 which imposes the absolute seize or grasp in the practice of Consumption of the Opium Drug but legally used for medicinal purposes.
  • In 1980 at Punjab, public witnessed, cases of Sikh militancy engaged in the case of drug trafficking. The Wagah-Attari border was frequently used by the miscreants to carry drugs across the border. 
  • The Samjhauta Express was made to run between Amritsar and Lahore to support the illegal trafficking of drugs from the cross- border Pakistan to India daily. Subsequently, in 1985 Government of India enacted “The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act”, 1985.

How drugs Trafficking started in India

Legal Implications of Drug Abuse/ Possession

The main cause of addiction of drugs begun with the excessive use of opium. Drugs such as cannabis or marijuana had been under used since world war and its use can even be traced to the Vedic period. In India, until 1985 Cannabis were legally sold and were commonly used for recreational purposes. India unfavoured the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) that was proposed by the United States under the law against all drugs.

Therefore, the convention came to a favourable decision giving India a ‘Grace period” of 25 years to make cannabis available only for scientific and medical purposes. Since it was a politically sensitive agenda and India became obligated to the international delegations. This forced the Indian government to eliminate ethnically deep-seated use of cannabis. So, on 14 November 1985, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was enacted, banning all narcotic drugs in India with not much resistance.

Under the NDPS Act, it is illicit for a person to produce or manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up under the NDPS Act with effect from March 1986. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is the chief law enforcement and intelligence agency of India vested with the responsibility to fight drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal substances. It was created on 17 March 1986 to enable the full implementation of the NDPS Act and fight its infringement.

The most recent legal case on drug possession was of an actor who was questioned by the Narcotics Control Bureau in connection with her alleged involvement in a suspected drug abuse angle in the SSR Death case, and her remand.

Most of the drug victims are neurotic individuals. Usually, a normal person depicts no sign of becoming a drug addict and is most unlikely to become one. Although, the hereditary factors, peer pressure, anxiety, emotional disturbances, depression, unstable personality, recreation, too much gain, adverse social reactions, physical inability to do a job etc., are some of the causes of drug addiction. The Act continues to inflict stricter punishments to drug abuser in India.

Legal Implications of Drug Abuse


In Modern times, both men and women use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to upshot in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for them. "Illicit" means to use of illegal drugs, including marijuana and misuse of prescription drugs. The NDPS Act,1985 was formulated with a view to curb the illicit production, manufacturing, storage, supply and consumption of substances that are banned under the law. NDPS Act views drug offences very severely and penalties are stringent. The quantum of sentence and fine differs with offences and for various offences, the penalty depends on the quantity of drug involved.

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 82 Post(s)

Kakoli Nath is a legal Content Curator at Finology Legal who pursued BBA.LL.B (5 years integrated course) & she is a patent analyst. She has pursued advanced certification in Forensics Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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