Legalise opium in Punjab, says MP

Last Updated 31 July 2018, 02:25 IST

In the wake of the escalating drug crisis in Punjab, some MPs from the state, across party lines, are trying to build a consensus on legalising the consumption and sale of opium and poppy husk.

Opium is a narcotic drug obtained from the unripe seedpods of opium poppies.

These legislators have renewed their efforts in this direction on the assumption that use of opium and its by-products may reduce the dependence of drug addicts on drugs.

Akali Dal's Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and AAP MP from Patiala, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, are the leading voices in the support for legalisation of opium consumption in the state.

The Punjab government under Captain Amarinder Singh recently forwarded the proposal by Gandhi on opium to the Union health ministry.

Punjab has had many incidents of drug trafficking and an ever increasing number of drug addicts flocking rehabilitation centers.

There have been several cases of death of addicts in the last two month on account of drug overdose and adulteration of drugs.

The alarming trend has now triggered a debate on whether or not opium should be legalised in this border state.

Dhindsa claimed anyone suffering a paralytic attack gets relief in case a small dosage of opium is provided. He further claimed that even children were given opium in minuscule quantities for some ailments.

Both the MPs are advocates of the "medicinal properties" of opium. Dhindsa said while he would discuss the issue with his party, his opinion was personal.

For some time now, Gandhi has been pressing for the need to legalise opium, especially in current times when the problem of drug addicts is spiraling out of control. Dhindsa's party spokesman and former Punjab Health Minister Dr D S Cheema feels the move is inappropriate.

He maintains that suggesting one drug over the other is ill-advised. Congress leaders, including state president Sunil Jakhar, too aren't impressed with the proposal. Many feel the sale and consumption of opium will give rise to more addicts.

(Published 30 July 2018, 18:50 IST)

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