Drug issues in Trashigang might not be as grave as it is in Thimphu and Phuentsholing but the menace is on the rise in the east.

Compared to just two cases in 2015, Trashigang police apprehended 13 individuals for possession and illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances last year.

Of the 13, one non-Bhutanese, who according to the police report was found to be mentally unstable, was found in possession of 84 grammes of cannabis. The police apprehended the 30-year-old non-Bhutanese at Chazam in Trashigang last year. It is not known why he was in Bhutan.

The other offenders included three students of Sherubtse College, four taxi drivers, two class-XII drop outs, a businessman, a cook of Laya Middle Secondary School and a student from Gaeddu College of Business Studies.

The offenders were apprehended during a routine highway checking last year.

This year, the police have detained seven drug abusers from the Trashigang town and Kanglung areas.

The recent case was reported last week when police, following a tipoff, arrested a 37-year-old man in Khangma, Kanglung. The man resides in Trashigang town and was found in possession of 252 capsules of Spasmoproxyvon (SP) and 19 tablets of Nitrosun.

Police said that many of the offenders found in possession of pharmaceutical drugs, upon interrogation, said that the drugs were for their personal consumption.

Police said that compared to the west and south, drug issues in the east are comparatively less. However, the number of abusers is growing.

Marijuana, which is easily available in the region, is widely abused.

Police sources said that they conducted a surprised check on April 25 and caught six people in possession of tobacco and tobacco products.

The alleged offenders include a businessman and women in the town.

Police also claimed that four people revealed that a driver with the dzongkhag was their distributer for cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Police have detained the 32-year-old driver for further investigation.

The six men and women were slapped with a fine of Nu 36,970 for possession of the tobacco products. Since the amount was within the permissible limit they were not detained.

According to the Tobacco Control(Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2014, the permissible quantity for import of tobacco or tobacco products per month is 800 sticks of cigarettes or 1,200 sticks of bidis or 150 pieces of cigars or 750 grammes of other tobacco or tobacco products.

Meanwhile, in order to prevent drug abuse and suicide related cases in the schools, the Trashigang Middle Secondary School conducted a religious discourse presided by the dzongkhag’s Lam Neten.

The ‘You-Turn programme’, which was initiated by the education minister Norbu Wangchuk last year with an objective to address youth related issues was conducted for the first time in the school.

The principal of the school, Yeshi Dorji, said that students as young as classes II and III of his school were found to be involved in smoking and chewing tobacco.

“The number as of now might not be alarming but the age at which students are starting to get involved in such practises is very alarming,” Yeshi Dorji said. “We have to intervene at this moment or else it will be too late to do anything later.”

Last year two students from the school had to leave for getting involved in drug related problems. “The easy market and availability of marijuana in the area are some of the reasons why students indulge themselves into drugs,” the principal said.

He said that similar programmes on teenage pregnancy and reproductive health would also be conducted in the future.

Younten Tshedup |  Trashigang