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Punjab Govt Mulls Decriminalising Drug Use, Addicts Caught With Small Amounts To Be Rehabilitated

Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh, however, clarified that this does not mean drugs will be legalised. Drug peddlers and smugglers will be dealt with an iron hand, he said.

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The Punjab government is considering "decriminalising" drug use so that addicts caught with small amounts of narcotics are sent to de-addiction centres and not jails, a minister said here on Wednesday.

 Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh, however, clarified that this does not mean drugs will be legalised. Drug peddlers and smugglers will be dealt with an iron hand, he said.

 Singh was speaking at an 'Experts Meeting on Mental Health Issues and Interventions in Punjab' organised by his department here, an official statement said.

  Minister for Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Social Security, Women and Child Development Baljit Kaur also attended the meeting.

 "Under this policy, drug addicts or people with substance use disorders caught with small amounts of drugs will be sent to de-addiction centres for treatment and rehabilitation instead of being put in jails," Singh said.

  "Decriminalisation doesn't mean that drugs will get legalised, they will continue to remain illegal," he said.
    He asserted that police will deal with drug smugglers and peddlers with an iron hand.
    Drug abuse has affected a large number of people in Punjab and created an obstacle in the progress and development of the state, the health minister said.

  "Our government is committed to making the state 'Rangla Punjab' (Vibrant Punjab) as envisioned by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann," Singh said.

  "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 menace of drugs," he said.

  The Employment Generation, Skill Development and Training Department will help the rehabilitated patients acquire skills and provide them jobs to help them return to the mainstream.

 Singh instructed health officials to use the services of psychiatrists in jails of Punjab and exhorted private practitioners to work in collaboration with government health institutions to achieve this goal.

 Minister for Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Social Security, Women and Child Development Baljit Kaur, while addressing the meeting, assured Singh of her department's full support and cooperation in eradicating the menace of drug abuse from the state.

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