Substance abuse can be described as harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs and can often lead to dependence syndrome – a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and psychological phenomena that develop after perpetual use of such substances and results into an increased desire to consume such drugs.
In light of the rapidly developing scenario of India in all the fronts where the potential of a rapid growth rests in the hands of the youth, substance abuse acts as a strong impedance by attracting people from every age group, who could have considerably contributed to the skilled workforce which would have resulted into the shooting up of GDP.
Thus, to create a deterrence effect from such malpractices, the Indian administration has undertaken several legislations as well as has signed up international treaties.
Looking through the lens of an international perspective, the Indian government signed and became a part of the Single Convention Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances on 30th March 1961 which aimed to formulate a generally acceptable international convention replacing existing treaties on narcotic drugs, limiting such drugs to medical and scientific use, and providing for continuous international co-operation and control for the achievement of the said aims and objectives.
Moreover, India also has a representation in the hich provides comprehensive measures against drug trafficking, including provisions against money laundering and the diversion of precursor chemicals. Furthermore, the Government of India also ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004, which was the first-ever international public health treaty focusing on the global public health issue of tobacco control and included various strategies to discourage the consumption of tobacco some of which included – price and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, packaging and labelling tobacco products, education, communication, training, and public awareness, etc.
Thus, it can be concluded that our country has sufficient representation when it comes to the creation of a legal framework against substance abuse on an international level.
In so far the national laws are concerned, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 acts as the strongest pillar which serves to make stringent provisions for the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances by restricting cultivation, production, sale, purchase, possession, use, consumption, import, and export of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances except for their scientific and medicinal purpose.
What makes this act dynamic is the overall high quantum of punishment and penalties, ranging from a fine of Rs. 1,00,000 to even the death penalty in instances depending on the gravity of the offence. Interestingly, this act overrides the constitutional defences which can be availed from the defence. ( For instance, section 32-A depriving executive of the power is not violative of article 14 or 21. Provision is neither arbitrary nor tends to take away a person’s right to life except according to the procedure established by law
Another strong pillar which supports the ‘Anti- Substance Abuse Complex’ of the Indian legal system is the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution)Act, 2003, which seeks to prohibit the advertisement, provision of regulation of trade and commerce as well as production, supply and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The act stems from the World Health Organization (WHO) Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) guidelines and is amended from time to time. As far as the control on the consumption of liquor is concerned, each state has its local state legislation (rules) which governs the rules about the issue of license the legal age for drinking in that region.
Thus, the above discussion boils us down to the fact that the Indian legal framework on the control of substance abuse is quite comprehensive and firm. Yet, some loopholes remain to be worked upon through the amendments made from time to time to keep up with the continuously changing trends of the society.