Keep SP+ away

How hard is it to determine that SP+ is among the controlled substances? The main content of Spasmo Proxyvon (SP) may be dextropropoxyphene and tramadol of SP+. But both contents have the same effect on users. If SP is listed among controlled substances, why is SP+ not?

The debate that we are having is pointless. DRA and BNCA say that SP+ has narcotic contents, one of them being opium, which is addictive. SP+ is a psychotropic drug. Period.  Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substances Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015 may not include SP+ as controlled substance, but that doesn’t give us reason enough to put things in the right. It must be understood that manufacturers have just given a different name to bypass the law. SP is SP+.

OAG officials have been prosecuting those in illegal possession of SP+ since 2015. We have wasted more than enough time trying to establish where SP+ must belong. In 2016 alone, the office has prosecuted more than 390 cases involving controlled drugs.

What becomes clear is that what the law omitted in the making of it should be included as time demands. The law require updating. Even if we cannot amend the law, we must have mechanisms to control such fabrications from entering our society. Ketamine wasn’t among the controlled drugs in Bhutan until a woman was caught smuggling the drug at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand in 2013.

BNCA says that without a laboratory in the country to test the drug’s content, it is considering sending the drug for testing abroad. We cannot waste time doing that – considering.

Drug abuse is fast becoming a malaise in the country. This societal illness needs to be dealt with carefully, systematically and urgently. Otherwise, we would be exposing our young people to the risk due to allied challenges they face like growing youth unemployment and rising urban poverty.

Courts should treat SP+ no different from SP to curb illegal use of the drug. We need to look into the larger implications of the use of controlled substances. If lower courts are looking for some directives, it is incumbent on the Supreme Court to draw the line.

We can ill afford to prolong the debate.

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