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Laws related to drug abuse

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A comparison of Indian laws versus European, American, and Middle Eastern regarding punishment of marijuana users and pushers and sellers shows startling differences. For example, possession of even small amounts of marijuana in several countries invites life imprisonment and even death (UAE, Maldives, Singapore), while other countries have graded penalties which are different for pushers and users and also distinguish between the type and quantities of the illicit substances. In the US, some states have legalised marijuana, while others make possession of even small amounts a crime. Is there any clarity of laws in India?

UAE

The Federal Law No 14, 1995 deals with countermeasures against narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Article 6

1. The procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 4, as well as all the other types of activities and acts in connection with such drugs shall be prohibited.

2. Controlled medical applications of the said substances may be administered and scientific research thereon may be carried out, subject to the knowledge of a competent scientific authority. The establishment and organisation of such authority, as well as the provisions concerning the exercise of its activity, shall be announced by virtue of a decision issued by the Council of Ministers on the basis of a submission by the Minister of Health and approval by the Committee defined in article 3 of this Law.

Article 46

The penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than ten years and not more than 15 years and a fine of not less than 20,000 dirhams shall be imposed on any person who has managed, prepared or set up a place for the abuse of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances provided for in Schedules 1, 2, 4 and 5, annexed to this Law. The penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than seven years and not more than ten years and a fine of not less than twenty thousand dirhams shall be imposed on any person who has managed, prepared or set up a place for the abuse of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances provided for in Schedules 3, 6, 7 and 8, annexed to this Law, or any of the narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances subject to the provisions of Article 41. The penalty shall be life imprisonment and a fine of not less than twenty thousand dirhams in the event of relapse into the commission of any of the specified offences.

USA

In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under the CSA, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use—thereby prohibiting even medical use of the drug. At the state level, however, policies regarding the medical and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly, and in many states conflict significantly with federal law.

The use, sale, and possession of cannabis over 0.3 percent THC in the United States, despite state laws, is illegal under federal law. As a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis over 0.3 percent THC (legal term marijuana) is considered to have “no accepted medical use” and have a high potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence. Cannabis use is illegal for any reason, with the exception of FDA-approved research programmes.

EUROPE

You are not likely to be punished for minor possession in many countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Latvia, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. On the other hand, some of the countries with the harshest drug laws in Europe include Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Sweden, and Finland. In these countries, all drug use is considered a criminal offence and may lead to prison time.

INDIA

As per Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 production, sale/purchase, transportation, interstate import/export or any other commercial activity of cannabis is punishable.

  • For holding a small quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to six months, fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
  • For holding more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, fine of Rs 1 lakh, or both.
  • For holding commercial quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, fine of Rs 1-2 lakh, or both.

Read Also: NCB: Another Sledgehammer?

The small and commercial quantity of various drugs in India are as follows:

  • Heroin: 5 grams-250 grams
  • Cocaine: 2 grams-100 grams
  • Hashish or Charas: 100 grams-1 kg
  • Opium: 25 grams-2.5 kg
  • Ganja: 1kg-20 kg

—By India Legal Bureau

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