The High Court’s (HC) bench one upheld four lower court judgments involving five people and increased sentences for two others for the illicit transaction of Spasmoproxyvon Plus (SP+).

A few months ago, when the courts were not able to decide and asked for intervention from the Supreme Court, we asked how hard is it really to determine that SP+ is among the controlled substances?

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. Now that the judgement has been passed, it should give teeth to our laws. Often, we face problems with implementation.

The main content of Spasmo Proxyvon (SP) is dextropropoxyphene and tramadol of SP+. But both contents have the same effect on users. SP is listed among controlled substances. We argued, therefore, that SP+ has to be among the controlled substances.

DRA and BNCA have made it clear that SP+ has narcotic contents, one of them being opium, which is addictive. SP+ is a psychotropic drug. Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substances Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015 may not have included SP+ as controlled substance, but that doesn’t give us reason enough to not consider it less harmful.

What we must understand is that manufacturers have just given a different name to bypass the law. SP is SP+. Our laws require updating if we cannot have mechanisms to control such fabrications from entering our society.

What this issue brought to the fore is that our very agencies mandated with dealing with issues of controlled substance are weak. We need to bolster their power. It is upon the government of the day to make it happen. Do we have a clear plan? It is high time we had one.

Drug abuse cases are rising in the country. What leads our young people to such habits is not very difficult to understand. We have the most sensible visions; but visions on their own can do little. We need to help ourselves.

Drug abuse is a problem today because of problems we have in other sectors. How holistically are we looking at our development? This societal illness needs to be dealt with carefully, systematically, and urgently.

The courts have treated SP+ no different from SP. This is important to curb illegal use of the drug. We need such courage from public offices.