Parliament has passed The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Bill, 2023. The Bill was discussed and approved on Tuesday, August 22, 2023,
If the President signs the bill, it will help address the problem of misusing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, said that this bill will put strict punishments on people who use and sell these harmful substances.
Tayebwa, who chaired the session, explained that Parliament worked to fix all the problems related to the illegal use and supply of drugs.
“We have made a strong law to fight against the supply and use of harmful drugs. Drug abuse is a big problem in the country. It’s not just young people; even adults, including some parents, are involved. In 2022, out of 7,035 patients admitted, 25% had issues because of alcohol and drug abuse,” Tayebwa said.
He asked Members of Parliament to talk to their children and the people they represent about drugs, adding that Parliament made strict rules to save lives and lessen the bad effects of drug abuse in communities.
Tayebwa also asked parents to keep an eye on their children. He noted that only those who have experienced the pain of having a family member addicted to drugs can understand the struggle.
“If you haven’t had a family member addicted to drugs, you won’t understand. I personally have a family member who is an addict, and we go through a lot. It starts in a simple way. Many of our colleagues are slowly dying because their children are suffering from drug abuse,” he said.
According to Clause 10 of the Bill, if it becomes a law, anyone who gives drugs or psychotropic substances to children will face life imprisonment. This includes medical professionals like doctors, dentists, and pharmacists.
Farmers who grow these illegal substances will now need permission from the health ministry. Those who don’t get permission will go to jail, as mentioned in Clause 11.
People who break the law multiple times will also go to jail.
To prevent unfair searches and arrests by people authorized by the Bill, Clause 18 holds these authorized individuals responsible if they arrest or search someone without a good reason.
Under Clause 7, pharmacists who prescribe the prohibited drugs and substances will be fined one billion Ugandan shillings, go to jail for 10 years, or both.
Clause 8 states that medical professionals who break the rules of this Act by prescribing and giving out prohibited substances will have their names removed from the list of professionals.
MP Kabanda Nalule tried to include Police and army personnel in this provision, but her proposed changes were rejected by other MPs.
MP Kajwengye praised Deputy Speaker Tayebwa for his leadership and thanked everyone for passing a law that directly affects the people.
The State Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, thanked the MPs for making this law. He said the government’s goal is to make sure the law achieves its purpose.