India is the land of spiritual enlightenment, and what better way to tap into your spirituality than through psychedelic use. Aligning with most governments around the world, full legalization of MDMA and other psychotropic drugs is illegal in India, but for many that is only an official declaration. In practice, there are many legal gray areas that are important for both visitors and locals to understand.
Drug Laws in India
The punishment for drug possession in India, as laid out in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act , is severe – and tourists should be careful. The weight of the drug the individual has determines the punishment, and the amounts fall into two categories: “small quantities” and “commercial quantities.” An individual with less than the small quantity will face up to 1 year in prison, a fine of $130, or both. Anyone who has an amount between the small and commercial quantity may face up to ten years in prison, a fine of $1300, or both. Finally, anyone found with more than the commercial quantity faces between 10-20 years in prison, a fine as high as $2500, or both. For MDMA, the small quantity is .5 grams, and the commercial quantity is 10 grams.
Legal Theory vs. Legal Practice
Black market procurement of any illicit substance, especially in a foreign country, is never recommended. That being said, data indicates that MDMA usage is actually increasing in India. Police in the Kochi region report seizing 6 times as much MDMA in 2021 as they did in 2017. Tracking journalistic trends over the last two years, the increase in reporting on drug seizures has also gone up, indicating both a wider awareness of police when it comes to drug use and wider availability of MDMA in India. Though psychedelic use remains illegal, it is clear that their use is increasing in India, even without any prospect of legal reform.
The Government of India. (1981). The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. https://legislative.gov.in/
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Punishment for Offences | Department of Revenue | Ministry of Finance | Government of India. (n.d.). https://dor.gov.in/
Antony, T. (2022, August 26). ‘Desi’ MDMA gives excise officials more headache. . . The New Indian Express. https://www.newindianexpress.
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Kathiresan, P., & Sarkar, S. (2021). Club Drugs in India: An Analysis of Newspaper Reports. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 44(3), 311–313. https://doi.org/10.1177/
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