3 Drugs That Are Legal In India [And Should Be Brought Under Stricter Laws]

Posted on March 13, 2012

By Nikita Rajwade:

India- The land that gives the world ‘multicultural’ a definition in the purest sense, God’s own country, is also one of the major players in the synthetic drug market in the world.

A drug in simple terms would be a substance which alters bodily reactions. Drugs are primarily used in the pharmaceutical industry, and these are classified under prescription drugs. Had the world aligned to merely this function of drugs, we’d probably not be witnessing the death of over two million people every year, of all those who die of what is now known as ‘substance abuse’. Drugs consumed for other than medicinal purposes are used for ‘recreation’ or enhancing one’s physical and mental capacity (smart drugs). Some drugs like heroin are derived from plants (Opium) while others are created ‘synthetically’ in laboratories.

India is unfortunately sandwiched between few of the countries who are the biggest producers of illicit opium, while itself being known to be the largest manufacturer of licit opium. And this opium is channelled more often than not into the international drug market. Other than these ‘traditional drugs’, the Indian subcontinent is now witnessing the rise in the laboratory manufacture of drugs such as ephedrine.

  1. Ephedrine, earlier derived from the plant Ephedra, is an essential component in many Chinese medicines. Considering that the earlier methods are now not financially viable, manufacturers are shifting to the synthetically produced versions. Ephedrine is said to help in the treatment of asthma and bronchitis, and is also said to help in weight loss, while contributing well in controlling nausea at sea, due to which it is treated still as a prescription drug in the US whose sale is regulated but not banned. Deep are the cons associated with the continued use of Ephedrine, some of the side effects being delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, dry mouth, gastrointestinal problems and skin problems such as acne. It is further disturbing to know that Ephedrine in some forms has a chemical composition similar to that of methamphetamine, touted to be the most dangerous drug in the modern world. Thus, Ephedrine is also used to produce Meth by altering slightly the former’s chemical structure or by using chemical reduction.It is not general knowledge that Ephedrine is one of the key ingredients in ‘Ecstasy’ and ‘Ice’, drugs whose popularity has risen in the past few years. A top official at India’s Narcotic Control Bureau at Delhi said that Ephedrine is a banned drug that is quite shockingly, being sold in the country’s capital openly. This, he stated after a consignment of US-bound Ephedrine was caught in August 2006. It is indeed worrisome that there are no laws banning the use of the substance that is potentially so harmful. Ephedrine is manufactured in private labs in India, albeit under Government regulations, and it is suspected that these labs have been leaking it to the International drug market at phenomenally high prices. While a kilo of the government-regulated Ephedrine would fetch no more than two thousand rupees in India, countries across the seas are willing to pay millions of dollars, and this further incites the manufacturers to go rogue.
  2. Another commonly found synthetic drug is Ketamine, which is used medicinally in anaesthesia. Its use has now been controlled due to the hallucinations it results in, and is now limited to emergency situations or when there is no reliable ventilator backup. Researchers are hopeful that it may prove to be the solution to Heroin and alcohol addiction. There is a very unique factor separating Ketamine from other anaesthetics, and that is the fact that it is more of a stimulant than a depressant, but doctors have preferred to use it less often after patients who were anaesthetized reported of having seen God. Nausea, dizziness, hypertension, memory problems, psychomotor retardation, etc are some of its known after effects. Ketamine is also known as the ‘date-rape drug’. In India, Ketamine is not a banned drug, and restrictions have been placed only its export. It is manufactured under license in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Its value, while around thirty thousand Rupees in the country, can be easily sold for nearly ten lakh rupees abroad.
  3. The last drug I will be mentioning is Methamphetamine, the ‘baap’ of all drugs in the market. Indian college students, disheartened by the cost ineffective Heroin and Ecstasy have chosen to switch over to crystal Meth, which can be easily manufactured from Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine. India produces over 400 metric tons of the latter two drugs, most of which is exported to Canada, Germany, Mexico and the US, and meth is extracted from them. Meth has been proven successful in treating obesity, and is said to increase anxiety, concentration, self-confidence, while causing problems such as anorexia, hypertension, hypotension, etc. Overdose can lead to strokes and even death.

As a citizen of this country, and more importantly as a student of Law, I was rather astounded when I went through the list of drugs banned in India, as uploaded by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization. Not a mention of the words ‘Ephedrine’, ‘Ketamine’ or ‘Methamphetamine’. Understandably, these drugs have certain medical uses, and cannot be banned per se, but it is still very disturbing to know that the regulations on the manufacture and supply of these dangerously addictive substances are not very stringent. The Government, although regulates the manufacture and trade of these substances, hasn’t yet come to a framework conclusive enough to be effective. Under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, offenders related with drug peddling, can be given bails.

It is also imperative to know that the Indian Drug ‘Underworld’, so to say, is not monopolised by a single cartel or a mafia, as was the case in earlier times. This has only paved way for small dealers to make it big in the drug market. Considering the fact that there is no ban on interstate transportation of drugs, markets have cropped up everywhere, sometimes even at the pharmacists’ and the demand for these drugs is growing day after day. The modern world has seen high alcohol and drug dependence among the youth, and it is a trend as well as an addiction amongst the ‘future of India’.

It is only fair for the Government to work on making the existing laws more stringent, or perhaps introduce new laws that will address the current issues effectively. A single law can make a world of a difference, and even if it’s just one person who abides by it, the entire system of law will have achieved its aim. Apart from this, it is a personal opinion that children, or more appropriately, teenagers and young-adults must be counselled and taught the ill-effects of these life-altering substances. It is seen that such topics are avoided in everyday households, either to due to the unwillingness of parents to discuss such issues, or due to ignorance. In most cases, parents live in denial, in spite of knowing that their children are in fully exposed to substance culture in today’s world. Teenagers and youngsters too, unable to cope with the various pressures they are subjected to, find solace in drugs, not willing to consider how drastically it will affect their lives in future.

There is, I emphasise, no shame in admitting that they are having problems coping with the daily demands of peers, educational institutions and demanding parents and girlfriends or boyfriends, even. This is where counsellors need to step in and play their part, wisely offering alternative methods for the youth to channelize their depressed or low energies. Schools too, must undertake such programs and every educational institution and all firms and industries, I recommend, must have a counsellor on their list of employees.

The major drawback, I believe lies not only with the Government agencies, but also the society. We need to evolve as a society, and stop pressurizing teenagers with unnecessary issues. Jesse Jackson said, ‘Today’s students can put dope in their veins or hope in their brains. If they can conceive it and believe it, they can achieve it. They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude.’
If I were asked, I’d just expand this quote to include the Indian society in its ambit.

Image courtesy: http://www.naturalbuy.com/can-college-kids-recover-from-drug-addiction-while-in-school/

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