The Punjab government is considering adopting a policy for decriminalisation of the drug use, said state Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Balbir Singh on Wednesday.
“Decriminalisation doesn’t mean that drugs will get legalised, it will continue to remain illegal. Under this policy, drug addicts or patients of substance use disorders caught with meagre amounts of drugs will be sent to de-addiction centres for their treatment and rehabilitation instead of putting them into the jails,” he said, while maintaining that drug smugglers would be dealt with by the police with iron hand.
The health minister said this while presiding over an “experts meeting on mental health issues and interventions in Punjab” organised by the Punjab health and family welfare department.Dr Singh said the problem of drug abuse has affected a large number of the population in Punjab and has created a barrier in the progress and development of the state.
He said the Punjab Government has been working on formulation and implementation of a policy under which a multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary approach will be used to tackle the situation on utmost priority.
“We are planning to rope in all the departments including social security, youth affairs and education to work in tandem with the health department to fight the drug menace,” Dr Singh said.
The minister said they will also involve the employment generation and skill development department which will help the rehabilitated patients to inculcate skills and provide jobs to help bring them back to the mainstream life. Dr Balbir Singh instructed the health officials to use the services of psychiatrists in jails of Punjab and exhorted private practitioners to work in collaboration with government health institutions.