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Know About Narcotic Substances Act

Megha Viswanath , 25 Feb 2021

What is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) Act of 1985?

The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 is the act that prohibits an

Individual or group of individuals to Production/manufacturing/cultivation,

Possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

This Act came into force on 16th September,1985.


Narcotics - ● Opium ● Morphine ● Heroin

Depressants - ● Barbiturates ● Tranquilizers

Stimulants- ● Amphetamine ● Cocaine

Hallucinogens- ● LSD ● Charas, Ganja ● Mescalin

History & Background

There was no legislation regarding narcotics in India until 1985. Since 2000BC Smoking Cannabis is very well known in India and is mentioned in Atharvaveda.

The derivatives of Cannabis (marijuana, hashish and bhang) were legally sold in India until 1985.

The United States began campaigning worldwide against the usage of all drugs, following the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Nearly 25 years the move was opposed by India and with the increased pressure in the 1980s from America, the Rajiv Gandhi government enacted the NDPS Act.

Important Definitions

Section 2 of the Act defines the various terms used in it.

-"Cannabis (hemp)" means:

(a) charas, that is, the separated resin, in whatever form, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant and also includes concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hashish;

(b) Ganja, that is, the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops), by whatever name they may be known or designated; and

(c) any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or a drink prepared there from;

-"Cannabis plant" means any plant of the genus cannabis.

- “coca derivative” means—

(a) Crude cocaine, that is, any extract of coca leaf which can be used, directly or indirectly, for the manufacture of cocaine;

(b) Ecgonine and all the derivatives of ecgonine from which it can be recovered;

(c) Cocaine, that is, methyl ester of benzoyl-ecgonine and its salts; and

(d) All preparations containing more than 0.1 per cent. of cocaine.

What are the major drug laws of India?

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985) and the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1988).

The Opium Act 1857, The Opium Act 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930 were the acts that controlled over narcotic drugs before the NDPS Act existed.

The Main Objectives of the Act

  • to amend existing laws related to narcotics drugs,

  • to eradicate the abuse of these drugs.

  • to bring to the notice about the severe health issues those are caused after its consumption.

  • to regulate the illicit production and transportation of the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances

  • to lay down strict provisions and strengthen the legal aspect for the control of Narcotics substances.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Consultative Committee

The Central Government and the State Government are empowered for the formation of the NDPS committee and as per the provisions 6 and 7 of the Act, where the members of the committee have to look after and control the abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.


Section 8 of the NDPS Act prohibits any person to cultivate any coca plant or gather any portion of coca plant; or to cultivate the opium poppy or any cannabis plant; or produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India or transship any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, except for medical or scientific purposes and in the manner and to the extent provided by the provisions of this Act.

Permit and Regulation

Subject to the provision of section 8, the Central Government may permit and regulate under the rules prescribed under section 9 as follows

the cultivation, or gathering of any portion of coca plant, or the production, possession, sale, purchase, transport, import inter-State, export inter-State, use or consumption of coca leaves, opium poppy and production of poppy straw.

the sale of opium and opium derivatives

the import into India and export from India and transshipment of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

the manufacture, possession, transport, import inter-State, export inter-State, sale, purchase, consumption or use of psychotropic substances.

Offences and Penalties

What happens if you’re caught with weed? 

Punishment for contravention in relation to cannabis plant and cannabis is laid down under section 20 of the NDPS Act.

-Contravention relates to the cultivation of cannabis plant with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees; and

- where such contravention relates to produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses cannabis,

For contravention involving a small quantity, there is rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to six months or a fine that may extend to Rs 10,000, or both 

If it involves a quantity less than commercial quantity but greater than a small quantity, rigorous imprisonment may extend to 10 years with a fine that may extend to Rs 1 lakh 

Cases that involves commercial quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to twenty years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to two lakh rupees.

-Additionally, the Juvenile Justice Act provides separate rules for minors found in possession, consuming or selling cannabis. So, those below 18 cannot be prosecuted under the NDPS Act.


1988 - The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 1988 (Act No. 2 of 1989) received assent from then President Ramaswamy Venkataraman on 8 January 1989.

2001-The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2001 (Act No. 9 of 2001) received assent from then President K. R. Narayanan on 9 May 2001.

2014- The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act No. 16 of 2014) amended the NDPS Act to relax restrictions placed by the Act on Essential Narcotic Drugs making them more accessible for use in pain relief and palliative care.


The NDPS act, 1985 is enacted to control, prohibit, regulate and lay down strict penalties against the abuse of these drugs in order to protect the young souls of the nation and to establish a healthy environment.

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