Punjab has been facing a drug menace for a long while now. As per a recent study that was done by the government, more than 8,60,000 young men in the state take some form of drugs. An estimate suggests that more than two-thirds of Punjab’s households have at least one addict in the family.
And amidst this drug crisis, a group of farmers and politicians are pushing for legalizing opium cultivation!
These farmers say that letting them grow opium will drastically change their financial condition and it will help the government fight the synthetic drug ‘Chitta’
Related Article: The Complete Story Of The Weed Ban In India
Growing opium is no easy task. Opium is extracted from Poppy plants. Once the plant has formed a bud, a sap starts flowing from small cuts in the bud. The sap is then scraped off the bud with a curved scraping tool. This sap is used to synthesize opium.
Once the sap has been laid in wooden boxes and dried, this sap can be used to synthesize drugs like Morphine, Codeine, Heroin, and Oxycodone. All of these drugs were originally developed as pain killers and sleep inducers.
In Punjab, where more than 53% of addicts prefer heroin. These farmers think that if opium cultivation is legalized, heroin consumption would go down. They say that it's better to be addicted to something organic instead of using heroin that is synthesized using a number of chemicals including gasoline.
The farmers also say that opium cultivation in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh is legal under the government's supervision but no one would have heard of drug addiction in such states. Akali Dal Rajya Sabha Member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is advocating this movement.
In a statement to a news agency, Dhindsa Said, “Opium cultivation can fetch Rs. 5-6 lakh per acre. The financial condition of small farmers will change drastically if the government allows each farmer to cultivate opium even in an acre of land.”
He said that it is impossible for the government to put a complete end on drugs, instead, it can replace more dangerous Chitta with natural drugs.
"I have been demanding that the draconian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, be scrapped. There's 10 years' imprisonment for a first offense, 20 years for a second offense and even life imprisonment or hanging if the judge desires so. For what? For consuming a small amount of opium husk or marijuana.” Says Dhindsa.
While some of the things they talk about actually make sense, we honestly don’t know if legalizing opium in the state will do any good. Even at this point, a ton of opium is smuggled into India from Pakistan.
But is it really wise to legalize a drug in a state that is already battling with addiction? Tell us what you think in the comments below.