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Offenses under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 | NDPS Act

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, also known as the NDPS Act, prohibits a person from production, manufacturing, cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.

Section 2(iii) of the NDPS Act defines cannabis as:

  • Charas is the separated resin, which can either be in crude or purified form which is obtained from the cannabis plant. This also includes the concentrated preparation and resin known as hashish oil or liquid hash.

  • Ganja is the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops)

  • Any mixture with or without any neutral material, and of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.

The Act specifically prohibits the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers, while the use of seeds and leaves is allowed.

Sec 27 deals with Punishment for illegal possession in small quantity for personal consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or consumption of such drug or substance:

  • Any person consuming substances such as morphine, cocaine, diacetyl-morphine, and any other drug later specified as one by the central government under a notification shall lead to rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to 1 year or fine up to 20,000 rupees, or both.

  • Any narcotic drug or a psychotropic substance, other than those included in the list, shall lead to imprisonment up to 6 months or a fine up to 10,000 rupees, or both.

Section 20 Of the NDPS Act, 1985 deals with the offenses related not only to the consumption but also cultivation, possession, use, sale, purchase, import, export, transportation, and warehousing of cannabis, shall be punishable with:

  • Involves Small quantity: Rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to six months or a fine that may extend to Rs 10,000, or both.

  • Involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity: Rigorous imprisonment may extend to 10 years with a fine that may extend to Rs 1 lakh.

  • Involves commercial quantity: Rigorous imprisonment will not be less than 10 years, but may extend to 20 years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh (which can be extended to two lakhs).

Legality of Bhaang under NDPS Act: Bhang does not fall within the definition of cannabis (hemp) as defined under Section 2(iii)of NDPS Act. Also bhang is made using the cannabis seeds and leaves which is not prohibited. Judgement from the case of Manjee vs State Of Rajasthan on 27 February, 1996: It is apparent from aforesaid two enactments that under Act No. 2 of 1950 Charas, Ganja and Bhang are included within the definition of cannabis (hemp) whereas under N.D.P.S. Act bhang is excluded. Bhang does not fall within the definition of cannabis (hemp) as defined under Section 2(iii)of N.D.P.S. Act. The sale and consumption of bhang is permitted under law in India due to the NDPS Act’s definition of cannabis


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