According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), drug dependence is a medical condition classified as a “multi-factorial health disorder that often follows the course of a relapsing and remitting chronic disease”. Since most of the countries around the globe are a part of the present international drug control mechanism, it can be declared that the international efforts in controlling the drug menace have paved the way. The international mechanisms have acted as a catalyst, in the sense that they have been helpful in the formation of national-level policy and regulatory frameworks. There is now a certain degree of uniformity around the globe regarding how various nations look at and approach the problems related to narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.

Need for the study:
Firstly, existing guidelines are sketchy; they elaborate neither administrative, clinical nor human rights standards in managing drug dependence. Secondly, drug treatment in India largely remains unregulated, placing the health and safety of patients at risk. It has produced greater confusions such as what constitutes treatment; who should deliver it and how; who should monitor it and so on. Lastly, the emphasis for the reforms needed in national drug control strategies, policies, laws and other important matters such as the inclusion of all the stakeholders in this matter. Consequently, it has become very important for the country to come up with a broad-based legislation/policy related to the use of narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.

I. Control through legislation:
US: The regime of drug control in the US begins with the introduction of the Pure Food and Drug Act, 1906, which regulated the labeling of products containing certain drugs including cocaine and heroin. This was further extended with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, 1914, regulating opiates and cocaine.  It then continues with the Marijuana Tax Act, 1937, providing taxation of marijuana, Convention on Narcotics Treaty,1961, to control marijuana and Controlled SubstancesAct, 1970, scheduling list for drugs. The Controlled Substances Act, 1978 follows the Single Convention’s lead in granting a public health authority a central role in drug scheduling decisions. It also includes a provision mandating that federal authorities control all drugs of abuse at least as strictly as required by the Single Convention. The U.S. Psychotropic Substances Act of 1978 was signed into law on November 10, 1978, as Public Law providing various classifications of psychotropic substances. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 was signed into law on November 18, 1988. Among its provisions, it established the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

India: The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 (NDPS Act) sets out the statutory framework for drug law enforcement in India. This Act consolidates the erstwhile principal Acts, viz. the Opium Act 1857, the Opium Act 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. The NDPS Act also incorporates provisions designed to implement India’s obligations under various International Conventions. Certain significant amendments were made in the Act1989 to provide for the forfeiture of property derived from drug trafficking and for control over chemicals and substances used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. In order to give effect to the statutory provisions relating to these substances, an order, namely the N.D.P.S. (Regulation of Controlled Substances) Order, was promulgated by the Government of India in 1993 to control, regulate and monitor the manufacture, distribution, import, export, transportation etc., of any substance which the Government may declare to be a ‘controlled substance’ under the Act. The statutory regime in India consequently covers drug trafficking, drug-related assets as well as substances which can be used, in the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Some further amendments were incorporated in the NDPS Act in 2001, mainly to introduce a graded punishment. Drug traffickers can be detained to prevent their illicit traffic through an executive order issued under the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988. Other laws include which indirectly have control on drugs include the Poisons Act, 1919, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Pharmacy Act, 1948, the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, etc.

II. Administration:
US: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) was formed with the strategic goals: (1) to reduce the entry of illegal drugs into the United States; and (2) to minimize the impact of international crime on the United States and its citizens. The Bureau manages the Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program in close coordination with the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other interested U.S. agencies.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established on July 1, 1973, by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973. It proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate the government’s drug control activities. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), and other federal offices merged to create the DEA. The DEA is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Administrator reports to the Attorney General through the Deputy Attorney General. The Administrator is assisted by a Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Operations, the Chief Inspector, and three Assistant Administrators (for the Operations Support, Intelligence, and Human Resources Divisions).
Other senior staff includes the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Counsel.

III. Strategies and policies:
The U.S. Office of Drug Control Strategy releases the various strategies and policies such as U.S. Drug Control Strategy 2012 report on April 17, 2012, National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy in January 2012, National Drug Threat Assessment, 2010. Department of Homeland Security Counternarcotics Doctrine was formed in the year 2010. The counternarcotics mission was to the interagency, inter-departmental and international in scope. Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the counternarcotics effort crosses component lines, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement playing major roles, and other components actively participating as well. Each DHS Component approaches its counternarcotics efforts as a subset of its broader mission.

India: The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 2012 was framed on the prevention of illicit cultivation of poppy and cannabis, emphasizing the use of satellite imageries for detection of illicit crop and its subsequent eradication and development of alternate means of livelihood in respect of cultivators in pockets of traditional illicit cultivation.

IV. Institution-level control:
National Academy of Customs Excise & Narcotics or NACEN is the apex institute of Government of India for capacity building in the field of indirect taxation. It also plays a vital role in international capacity building by imparting training to officers of various countries in the field of customs, drug laws and environment protection. In collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), NACEN is imparting training on drug law enforcement to various Asian nations. The Government of India has entrusted NACEN the responsibility of knowledge exchange, experience sharing and training with various countries of the world.


  • SC asks the center to undertake a nationwide survey to identify the prevalence of drug abuse 
  • Formation of the national action plan to combat
  • Create awareness about the serious sequences of drug abuse 
  • SC has asked the  government to include the subject of drug abuse in the curriculum of school students
  • TWELVE STEP PROGRAM: Outlining the actions and recourse to be taken in order to recover from drug addiction, compulsions, and other behavioral problem or alcoholism.
  • India’s Narcotics law is in serious urgency of rehab because there are 30 years since the passage of NDPS ACT 1985.

In India, as a result of narrow interpretations of international drug control conventions and laws, there has not been enough gains in terms of reducing the negative health, social and economic consequences of drugs. On the other hand, the societal cost of drug abuse is gradually increasing day by day. The reasons could be: firstly, India has been a country with long-standing, culturally-ingrained practices of using plant-based psychoactive substances (like opium and cannabis products), secondly, India is the single largest producers of licit opium in the world, thirdly India is surrounded by the regions with the large illicit production and use of opium and lastly India has been facing an ever-increasing problem of drug abuse and its relative consequences.

The US, one of the most developed countries in the world, has a deep-rooted approach towards the drug menace. Unlike India, it has numerous agencies entrusted with the control with a detailed plan and outlook over the abuse. The situation is viewed as a critical one in the US, unlike India where the government is involved in its survival and those activities which produce a good public image which could help it for another term. The US provides institutional level control at higher efficient methods of control. In India, the control is exercised mainly by the Bureau and no other institution is directly involved or created. One single administrative agency with too many loopholes in the Act and malfunctioning structure has made the traffickers and offenders easy to get away without any punishment. Hence, India needs to understand the implications made by the US Agencies in its society through its actions and policies and opt for a better administration and control over the drug abuse.  Affecting a known answer to a known problem is not done in India.