TODAY -

Manipur State Drug Policy - Points for Consideration
- Part 1 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *



Before I take up the main topic, I would like to invite a reference to the comment of one NGO on the proposed formulation of Manipur State Drug Policy published in the Poknapham Newspaper of dated 21 July 21, 2019 (page 9 column -2) which reads - “Mamangda sarkar na paikhatkhiba HIV-AIDS prevention and control programme da mai pakpa ngamdana leiramba matung HIV mahikka sagonnaduna hingliba meesing yaona programme asi paikhatlakpadagi mai pakpa ngamkhi.

This statement missed the correct version. The correct statement would have been – “In the beginning, the HIV/AIDS prevention and Control Programme was not so successful because of absence of Manipur State AIDS Policy during 1990-1996 but after passing of the Manipur State AIDS Policy on 3rd October, 1996 and implementation of this policy from 17 November, 1998 till date with the introduction of Harm Reduction Programme with the participation of NGOs, Drug Users and the people living with HI/AIDS, the programmes become successful.

In those days, every department try to implement HIV/AIDS prevention programme based on their own knowledge, perception. The doctor refused to treat and handle people living with HIV?AIDS, the police arrested young people with injection marks on their forearms. terminated new recruits found HIV positive, school teachers refused to teach and interact with students on HIV/AIDS, militants shoot drug users in the thigh, parents prefer to keep their sons using heroin drug in the jail etc.

Some NGOs establish private jails and keep drug users in bamboo cages with iron shakles. It enjoyed the support of some influential bureaucrats and it took me more than one year to close down the NGO through the Manipur Human Rights Commission. There were so many instances of discrimination , stigmatisation against and violation of human rights of drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS in Manipur. Now it has become a forgotten history.

Formulation of the Manipur State AIDS Policy by convincing the Chief Minister, other ministers, MLAs, Bureaucrats, doctors, Academicians. Lawyers, Social Workers, School authorities, teachers, police personnel, NGOs, media personnel etc is not an easy job. It needs to work passionately working 14 hours a day, having latest knowledge and experience of what other countries are doing.

When I brought the draft Manipur State AIDS Policy to the knowledge of the Health Minister in 1996, he asked me “ Dr. Is there any State in India having such a Policy on HIV/AIDS “. I replied “ Sir, Why not Manipur do it for the first time in India ?” He was laughing and said, “ Yes , I understand, Manipur can do it for the first time “ He immediately agreed and said “ This is very good, Hon’bleCM will agree –I will talk to him”. Later on, he was invited to speak on the topic in the United Nation’s General assembly in USA.

Why do I narrate this story now ? Because for developing a feasible, practicable, doable and effective Manipur State Drug Policy, we are likely to undergo almost the same procedure. The topic of “Drug Policy “ is not an easy topic. No country of the world has succeeded entirely in implementing Drug policies which they have formulated with conviction and dedication. Considering the great difficulties which I have experienced at the time of developing Manipur State AIDS Policy, I think I will share my experiences with the Stakeholders and those responsible for developing Manipur State Drug Policy for their guidance.

What is Drug Policy ?

A drug policy is the policy, usually of a government,
(1) regarding the control and regulation of drugs considered dangerous, particularly those which are addictive. Governments try to combat drug addiction with policies which address both the demand and supply of drugs, as well as policies which can mitigate the harms of drug abuse, and for medical treatment. Demand reduction measures include prohibition, fines for drug offenses, incarceration for persons convicted for drug offenses, treatment (such as voluntary rehabilitation, coercive care,

(2) supply on medical prescription for drug abusers), awareness campaigns, community social services, and support for families. Supply side reduction involves measures such as enacting foreign policy aimed at eradicating the international cultivation of plants used to make drugs and interception of drug trafficking. Policies which may help mitigate the effects of drug abuse include needle exchange and drug substitution programs, as well as free facilities for testing a drug's purity.

What is the Broad Legislative Policy on Drugs in India

The broad legislative policy is contained in the three Central Acts, viz. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

The responsibility of drug abuse control, which is a central function, is carried out through a number of Ministries, Departments and Organisations. These include the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue which has the nodal co-ordination role as administrator of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.

Chief Minister’s Declaration

Our Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri N. Biren Singh has declared three important things:-

1. On 3 November 2018, there was a news report that “ Manipur Government declared “WAR ON DRUGS”, says Hon’ble Chief Minister, N Biren Singh”. (PTI-https://www. financial express.com/india-news/manipur-government-declared-war-on-drugs-says-cm-n-biren-singh/ 1371205/ )

2. On 18 July, 2019, Shri N Biren Singh declared that the Government is mooting plantation of Marijuana at selected places for medicinal purposes to check plantation of illegal poppy plants at different areas of the state. (https://www.pratidintime.com/ plantation-of-marijuana-mooted-in-manipur/)

(3) Manufacturing , production and sale of local liqueur of Sekmai, Andro and other places may be taken up on commercial scale -not necessarily meant for use in Manipur

What Procedure we should follow for drafting the Manipur State Drug Policy ?

One important factor is the time. For me, it took more than one year from starting to finalization of the draft copy by the Empowered Committee under chairmanship of Chief secretary and 12 Principal secretaries/ Commissioners as members. Our dialogue and discussion on Manipur State Drug Policy may start from the Chief Minister’s Declaration mentioned above.

We are discussing among ourselves why do the arrival of foreigners at the Sangai Festival in Manipur is so disappointing. It will continue to be so until we permit under licence the sale and consumption of Beer in Manipur. The Americans used to say ‘ without Beer, everyday will be Sunday”.

Coming to the point, we can discuss what procedures we should follow to bring out a feasible, practicable, doable and effective Manipur State Drug Policy. Based on my experience in developing the Manipur State AIDS Policy, I would like to suggest the following Procedures –

(1) Constitution of one Drafting Committee on Manipur State Drug Policy. This is the most important step of the procedure. The leader can make the difference between success and failure. The first question may be “ Why do we need Manipur State Drug Policy ?

The membership may include knowledgeable and experienced people from seven areas :-
(1.1) Supply Reduction- Law Enforcement Authorities-NAB and Police
(1.2.) Demand Reduction-Prevention. Treatment and social reintegration. of Drug Users-Department of Social Welfare
(1.3). Harm Reduction – Implementation of Targeted Intervention Projects under Manipur State AIDS Control Society, Reduction of Harms associated with injecting drug use-
(1.4 ) NGOs and Social Activists
(1.5 ) Media Agencies and Media Personnel
(1.6) Academicians
(1.7) Lawyers etc.

The discussion may be started with the situational analysis of Supply Reduction, Demand Reduction and Harm Reduction –successes and failures. The points for consideration and discussion may be developed before hand and supplemented by the members as the dialogue goes on. The recommendations of the State Level Workshop and Conferences will be taken into consideration while developing the final draft.

The final Draft of the Drafting Committee will be discussed and finalised at the Empowered Committee meeting. This will be presented at the State Legislators’ Conference . One important point is the language of the draft. The language of the draft should be accurate, simple and easily understandable. The language will reflect the beauty of the draft.

(2) Organising one Workshop for NGOs working in or running Anti-drug activities and rehabilitation centres and Social Activists, Women Groups, Student Bodies etc. They are expected to come up with some suggestions and recommendations for incorporation into the Draft Manipur State Drug Policy.

(3) Organising one Conference to be organised by the Manipur High Court bar Association and All Manipur Bar Association . They may concentrate on the possible amendments of the three Central Acts mentioned above and their implementation. They may recommend the possible solutions for incorporation in to the Draft Manipur State Drug Policy.

(4) Organising one State Workshop on Manipur State Drug Policy for 2.3 days. This is not a conference. Here the senior members of the Narcotic Control Bureau, NAB, Police Department Social Welfare, Manipur University, RIMS, JNIMS, MACS will participate. This will be a Workshop where all resource persons will be divided in to groups-every group will be given topics and the particular group will discuss and recommend actions which will be presented at the plenary session and finalised at the plenary session. The recommendations may be considered for incorporation in to the Draft Manipur State Drug Policy.

(5) Organising one Day State Conference on Manipur State Drug Policy for Media Agencies, Media Personnel on the topic “ Media Strategies for effective implementation of Manipur State Drug Policy”. Here only the Media Personnel will participate and their views on crucial points will be discussed.

(6) Constitution of an Empowered Committee under chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Manipur. comprising of all Principal Secretaries and Commissioners. The Director of Social Welfare may be Member Secretary of the Empowered Committee. The Director of Social Welfare will send the copies of the Draft Manipur State Drug Policy at least 15 days before the scheduled meeting and personally request to come for the important meeting, The Chief Secretary and the respected members may raise many questions for which the Chairman of the Drafting Committee and the Director of Social Welfare has to answer and explain to the satisfaction of the members. The possible answers may be in the draft policy. The Chairman of the Drafting Committee and some other experts will be present in the meeting.

(7) Organising one State Conference exclusively for Legislators of all political parties. All Ministers and all MLAs will participate in the Conference and the Chief Minister, the Minister of Home, the Law Minister, the Health Minister, the Minister of YAS and the Minister of Social Welfare may be requested to speak for 20-30 minutes. Some experts will prepare the draft speech and discuss with the Minister concerned well in time.

(8) Passing of Manipur State Drug Policy by the State Cabinet. If the Cabinet passes the Draft, it becomes a State Policy. But for widespread awareness and knowledge , it is better to be discussed in the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

To be continued....




* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer may be reached at Khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 26, 2019.



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