State will soon get US-like task forces to combat drug abuse

To deal with the problem of drug circulation and addiction, especially in Mumbai, the home department proposes regional forces like those of the US drug enforcement administration (DEA)

Youth in the city are breaking bad and the government thinks we need something like a DEA. Alarmed by the sudden spike in cases of substance abuse in Mumbai and other cities, the state government is likely to announce the formation of a city and regional task force for a targeted response to the problem.

mid-day’s December 19 report about the rising demand for meow meow in the city
mid-day’s December 19 report about the rising demand for meow meow in the city

To be formed on the lines of the local and regional drug task forces of the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the task forces in Maharashtra will comprise investigators and officials from global
and regional agencies primarily the Mumbai Police, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), BMC, representatives from the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), and members from the revenue intelligence and social justice departments.

The proposal to set up a task force was presented to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by the home department on December 24, the last day of the winter session in Nagpur. Home officials said the sudden spike in the use of drugs such as meow meow (mephedrone) in the narcotics market was discussed with the chief minister, who directed the department to speak to the Centre for including the drug in the ambit of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 as early as possible.

“We were told (by the Centre) that it would take some time before the drug is included in the NDPS’s ambit. Therefore, we have suggested to the chief minister to immediately put in place a task force to deal with this menace in a holistic manner.

There is an urgent need for a drug strategy that takes into account the factors of supply and demand, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research, all at the same time,” said a senior official from the home department. This paper had earlier reported about the popularity of a drug called meow meow among the youth, which is easily available and has very destructive effects.

The task force, once formed, will be assigned the job of assessing the extent and nature of drug problem in urban areas, and then prepare a coordinating action plan at the local and state level. An integrated response will bring together agencies, departments, community and voluntary bodies for collective action against substance abuse, said officials from the state home department.

“We have suggested to the CM that the regional force could be headed by the state home minister and the city force by the police commissioner. This is the only way ahead to create a collective response to this mess, and, most importantly, to create awareness about drugs like meow meow among the youth. He is likely to take a call on this after a few more rounds of meetings,” said the official.

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