The police have maintained that consumption and dealing in marijuana and miraa are still illegal in Uganda.
Last week, on Friday, May 5, 2023, the Constitutional Court nullified the country’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2015, which, among other things, prohibited the sale and use of several narcotic drugs in the country contrary to Articles 88 and 89 of the Constitution and Rule 23 of the Rules of Procedure of the 9th Parliament, 2012.
According to the police, the pronouncement by the Uganda Constitutional Court attracted mixed reactions from the public about the uncontrolled consumption of narcotics-related substances under the Act.
SCP Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said despite the ruling, police will continue using the old law of the NDA that was not affected and is still in force.
He adds that Part IV of the Act provides for the restrictions on narcotics: Section 47 prohibits the possession of narcotics without lawful excuse; Section 48 prohibits the smoking of opium or Indian hemp; use of premises by persons smoking opium or Indian hemp; and Section 49 prohibits, without the consent of the Minister, the cultivation of plants yielding narcotics.
“Therefore, the police, DPP, and Judiciary will continue to exercise their old powers to tackle narcotics-related offenses under the Act. The drugs under the NDA law are illegal because they are harmful and affect both physical and mental health, relationships, career prospects, crime, and the wider society,” the police said.
Enanga said the police still maintain a zero-tolerance approach to the consumption of substances prohibited under the NDA.
“All our territorial commanders have been instructed to maintain or step up enforcement action against offenders and enhance deterrence efforts to help stop narcotic drug consumption in the country and crimes driven by it,” police said.
The police have also justified the fact that the unrestricted consumption of narcotics increased crime rates last year in 2022 compared to 2021 in different parts of the country.
“Last year, in 2022, a total of 2,797 cases of narcotics and drugs were reported to the police countrywide, compared to 1,668 cases reported in 2021, thus giving a 67.7% increase in the crime category. A total of 4,818 suspects were arrested and charged in court, including 137 juveniles. Cannabis has consistently been the most used drug, followed by cocaine,” police said.