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Sikkim to Decriminalize Drug Use

September 5, 2018

An official release from Sikkim in North India said the government plans to shift from treating drug use as a criminal act to considering it a disease instead.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling his government will shortly be changing its laws so that use of contraband drugs will no longer be subject to criminal penalties. Instead the region will treat use of such drugs as a disease needing treatment.

As Mr. Chamling said during an address to the Tendong Lho Rum Faat celebration near Ranipool last month, “The laws to punish drug peddlers will be made more severe and stringent but drug consumption will not be treated as an offence but rather an illness which needs treatment or therapy.”

This represents a major change to existing Sikkim Anti-Drugs Act of 2006. Under its provisions, someone who is found guilty of taking drugs can be jailed for six months and fined up to Rs. 20,000.

Along with the law changes, Mr. Chamling called for the public to become more aware of the dangers of drugs. He hopes the decriminalization will make it easier for people to encourage young people who abuse drugs to actively seek treatment.

Mr. Chamling also hopes to bring Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt to come to Sikkim and help inspire Sikkimese youth to overcome drug addiction.

Sikkim is one of India's most progressive and forward thinking states. In late 2015 it announced that it would become 100% organic and ban the use of synthetic agricultural chemicals and GMOs.