Drug reduction policy draft likely to be moved to Cabinet soon

New Delhi: Formulated with an objective of addressing all forms of drug abuses, a draft of the national policy for drug demand reduction is likely to be moved to the Union Cabinet for approval shortly.

"We had circulated it to the ministries as consultation is a must. Though we have given sufficient time to them, we
have not received the comments... We should give them more time, maybe another 15 days, and then it will go to the
cabinet," a source in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment who is privy to developments said.

The National Policy for Drug Demand Reduction, 2014 also focuses on rehabilitating the victims. The draft policy by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment covers two broad areas -- the illicit drugs including cannabis, heroin and opium and the other, pharmaceutical preparations like tranquilisers and inhalants.

The draft policy has been available on the Ministry's website for the public since November last year. The policy emphasises on strengthening coordination among various regulatory agencies concerned to check the diversion of substances from lawful channels to illicit networks, including internet pharmacies.

The regulatory agencies include Narcotics Control Bureau, State Drug Controllers, Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue) and Customs.

Citing a national survey on the extent and trends of drug abuse in India, the draft policy said, "It was estimated that there were approximately 8.7 million cannabis users and 2 million opiate users in the country in 2001."

The survey revealed that the problem was more serious in border states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Northeast and mega
cities, the draft policy said. It also observed that alcohol, cannabis, opium and heroin were the major substances of abuse in India.

The draft policy further deals with conducting a national survey on drug abuse, ensuring awareness building and
preventive education on the ill effects of drug abuse, providing qualitative treatment to the drug dependents
including Injecting Drug Users (IDUs).

It also underlines the need to develop a comprehensive online Drug Abuse Monitoring System (DAMS) for collection,
compilation and analysis of information about the drug dependent persons.

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