By Joyce Namutebi
Traffickers in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are to suffer life imprisonment if a Bill which is under consideration by the parliamentary defence committee is passed.
Also growing of Catha edulis (mairungi) Cannabis, coca bush, opium poppy and paper setigerum is prohibited under the same Bill.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2007 which was among the Bill shelved, was re-tabled in Parliament by internal affairs state minister, James Baba recently.
The committee has invited members of the general public to give their views, according to the chairperson, Milton Muwuma.
The Bill states that any person who traffics in a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance represented of held by him or her to be such, commits an offence and is liable to a fine not less than Sh10m or three times the market value of the drug or substance, whichever is greater, and in addition to imprisonment for life.
Possession of a narcotic drug of psychotropic substance is also an offence and offenders are liable on conviction to a fine not less than sh10m or three times the market value of the drug or to imprisonment not less than two years, but not exceeding 10 years or both fine and imprisonment.
However, the law will not apply to persons who get the drugs and substances under a license issued under section 28 of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, permitting him or her to have possession of the drug or substance.
It will also not apply to a medical practitioner, dentist, veterinary surgeon or registered pharmacist who is in possession of the drugs or substances for any medical purpose, among others.
The Bill lists hundreds of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances which are prohibited. Sniffing, chewing and inhaling and storing these drugs is also prohibited.
"A court which convicts any person of an offence under this Act, shall direct the Inspector general of Police or any police officer authorized by the IGP, to destroy all the prohibited plants found on any land to which the offence relates."
The Bill surfaces amid allegations that some members of parliament and involved in the trade. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Muwuma invited members of the general public who are having proposals or issues to submit them to the committee.
The MPs explained that the committee had been authorized by the Speaker to work during recess.
Meanwhile, the committee will next week travel to Gulu to interface with ex-combatants and victims of the war in respect to the Amnesty law.
"We would like to meet the bishops, get sentiments of the victims, those maimed and those affected by loss of lives," vice chairperson, Simon Mulongo said.