With 40 Members of Parliaments of the 42 present voting for the Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2017, the National Assembly (NA) yesterday endorsed the amendments made by the National Council yesterday.

It was passed by the NA as an urgent Bill earlier this session and was forwarded to the Council.

The NA has empowered the Narcotics Control Board to identify and add new drugs as prohibited drugs in consultation with the parliament, which the upper house accepted.

The Council added a few new sections to the Bill, one of which requires the board to submit any changes in the list of drugs to the parliament for information.

The Council also added that other drugs or substances of similar nature, effect, group or properties as those listed under Schedules I to VI of this Act shall be subject to the same measures of control as the controlled drug or substance listed under this Act.

The upper house also added that a person charged for the alleged crime shall remain under the custody of the authorised officer or law enforcement agency until he or she is produced before the treatment assessment panel till the completion of the treatment as provided in the rules and regulations.

Both the houses agreed to add Spasmo Proxyvon Plus (Tramadol) in the list of prohibited drugs.

However, Chumey-Ura MP Tshewang Jurmi expressed a dissenting opinion, saying that it would not benefit those already detained for possession of Tramadol.

He said that further deliberations were necessary to come up with a better law.

The proposal to amend the Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act 2015 was made after the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that the parliament had failed to envision drug-related problems in the future when it specified and prescribed the list of prohibited drugs and psychotropic substances in the Act.

In a case that was before the court, the defendants who were caught by authorities for abusing SP+ argued that they could not be prosecuted because the drug does not feature on the lists of banned substances.

The Bill will be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for assent.

MB Subba