KAMPALA – Parliament of Uganda is scheduled to pass the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2023 this afternoon.
The Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa is expected to preside over today’s sitting.
The government introduced the new Bill following annulment by the Constitutional Court of a similarly worded Act in the case of Wakiso Miraa Growers and Dealers Association versus Attorney General for lack of quorum when it was enacted.
The government reintroduced the Bill on May 23rd 2023, two weeks after the Constitutional Court nullified the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2015 on grounds that at the time of its passing Parliament lacked the required quorum.
What is in the Bill?
The Bill seeks to criminalize the use, farming, supply, and trading of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
The proposed law is anchored on the policy that adopts measures to criminalize drug-related offenses under domestic law in conformity with Article 3 of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and other related international conventions.
The Government also wants to address the defects in the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, Cap 206 which has been deemed “very weak and does not adequately address cases of illicit drugs”.
The object of a Bill that was referred to the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs is to put in place a law that will deal with the problems related to drug trafficking and abuse; provide deterrent measures against local drug abuse; establish mechanisms for rehabilitating drugs addicts; and save Uganda from being a transit route and consumer of drugs.
If convicted of possessing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances, a penalty fine of 500 currency points (Shs10 million) or three times the market value of the said drugs, whichever is higher, or imprisonment not less than 2 years but not exceeding 10 years, have been set in the new Bill.
Smoking, inhaling, sniffing, chewing, or any form of use of a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance attracts a penalty of not less than Shs480,000 and not exceeding Shs2.4 million or a custodial sentence of not less than 1 year but not exceeding 5 years while possession has an Shs3 million fine or imprisonment not less than 3 years but not exceeding 5 years upon conviction.
The same penalty has been retained for a person who owns or occupies or manages premises or permits premises to be used for abuse or manufacturing; has a pipe or utensils used for illicit use; and, who recruits or proposes the use of these drugs.
Due to reports of increased drug abuse among minors, Government wants to curb the vice by putting in place a deterrent penalty of not less than Shs2.4 million or imprisonment not exceeding 5 years for a person convicted of supplying toxic chemical inhalants to young persons while the cultivation of certain prohibited plants would attract a fine of Shs2.4 million or 5 years imprisonment, and for a second or repeat offender, imprisonment for life.