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TRIBUNE EDIT -North India against drugs Mere policing solves only half the problem

August 22, 2018 08:26 AM

COURSTY North India against drugs
Mere policing solves only half the problem
That four Chief Ministers of different persuasions could persuade themselves to launch a joint strategy to combat the menace of drugs indicates the inroads this devastating anomaly has made into the society’s jugular. Rajasthan, too, has joined the effort, though its CM skipped the inaugural meeting. That this is not a one-off event or a play for the galleries is evident from the proposal to set up a permanent secretariat and hold a review meeting every six months.
In Punjab, the anti-drug crusade has moved beyond making up the numbers to genuine detentions that effectively disrupt the multiple sources of supply of drugs. But over-reliance on policing and downstream rehabilitation mechanisms will meander into passivity or lead to cops constantly playing catch up with the ingenuity of smugglers. It is not that there is any less exertion on that front, but how can there be an all-out effort when the only survey on drug use is 16 years old? When the accent is on persecuting even those arrested for small quantity for personal consumption after the government changed the law in 2001 even before that survey began? No wonder in Punjab, one-third of the prisoners face drug-related charges.
Any attempt to reform the drug law to bring the spotlight on chemical drugs that are actually pauperising individuals and destroying the society’s fabric rather than civilisational drugs such as ganja and charas runs afoul of the powerful, but simplistic notion that all drugs are bad. The politicians need to bite the bullet and perhaps ease their dependence on liquor lobbies for revenue to the Central exchequer and personal aggrandisement in order to avert a chemical drug epidemic that will destroy the youth. Uneven coordination among government agencies is only a small part of the problem. What is required is a gargantuan effort to overhaul the drug laws that are currently based on prohibitionist sentiment, blind aping of Western laws and lack of consultation in lawmaking. Without conceptual clarity it is doubtful if such well-meaning exercises will mean much.

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