FinMin plans to bring more chemicals under narcotics Act

Not just drugs, even the legitimate chemicals used for processing such drugs could come under the draconian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. The finance ministry is working on stringent set of rules for use of chemicals that can be used to process drugs like cocaine, heroine and party drugs like ecstasy.

These chemicals are covered under the rubric precursors. Since these chemicals are also used for the legitimate production of a wide-range of medicines, perfumes, plastics and cosmetics, the move would have major impact on the chemical industry.

Currently, in India, precursors are controlled under three different legislations including Customs Act, EXIM policy and through norms under the Regulation of Controlled Substances (RCS) Order, 1993. Under the RCS Order, though it is mandatory for a manufacturer, distributor, seller or importer/exporter of the controlled substances to file records and quarterly returns with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), they are not required to register themselves with the NCB, which is the implementing agency of the NDPS Act.

"We plan to revise the RCS order to bring in precursors under the NDPS Act. The ministry is working on making it mandatory for manufacturers and traders to register with the NCB. The list of controlled chemicals under the current list will also be increased. The proposal has been circulated to the concerned stakeholders including the industry. Their response is awaited," an official told The Indian Express.

At present, five drugs — acetic anhydride, N-acetyl anthranilic acid, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and anthranilic acid — are covered under the RCS. However, according to the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs 1988, there are 23 controlled substances, which have been adopted by countries world over.

India is yet to comply with the convention. These include acetic anhydride, ephedrine, norephedrine, potassium permanganate, pseudoephedrine, acetone, anthranilic acid and hydrochloric acid among others.

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