Molly Charles



Geographical location, historical and cultural reality and development factors contribute in shaping the dynamics of drug trade in India. Transit through India and import for local consumption has changed in terms of extent of use, type of drug consumed and route preferred for transit based on situation related to national security, competition from other drug sources, disturbance in political situation, cost price of the drug at the street level and focus on HIV/AIDS related issues. Historical reality and cultural forms of use has ensured that non-formal norms that control use and trade exist in many parts of rural India. Criminalisation of drug use, including traditional drugs such as cannabis and opium, with the enactment of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, has led to change in drug trade situation in cities. Focus shifted to profit margin and cost of risks, corruption in society ensured this shift, which led to easier availability of hard drugs.


Legislation in itself has not been able to control drug trade, for till recently there was hardly any distinction made between user and trader, which led to users being behind bars rather than dealers and traders. With the recent differentiation between small and commercial quantity through ammendment of the Act, this limitation has been dealt with but it has failed to achieve much because of problems in implementation of the law, criminalisation of cultural use of cannabis and opium and in adequate steps taken towards creating functional outlets for medicinal use of cannabis and opium. In addition to this the emphasis on tourism in certain parts, has led to implementation of legislation being ignored for sustaining the momentum of tourism industry.


Against this background of complex reality the presence of licit cultivation of opium dispersed over three states has created scope for diversion of opium and illicit processing of heroin for the last decade. Development issues, caste system, feudal practices and corruption has ensured that this source of drug for local consumption has grown, sadly, it is leading to cultural use of opium being replaced by hard drugs such as heroin. In certain other parts of India, use of opium and opium straw in rural areas are being replaced by pharmaceutical substances that have no cultural base for control or use. These factors lead to poorer and marginalized segments of society being exposed to be hired as ‘disposable actors’ in the criminal world either in drug trade or organised crime.


Traducido del ingles por MM Moreno

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