Uganda’s Parliament has, after extensive debate, successfully passed the highly anticipated Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill 2023. Despite resistance from some legislators who pushed for exceptions, such as the exclusion of Khat or Marijuana from the prohibited plants list in Uganda, the bill secured approval.
Once signed into law by the President, the bill will make the use, cultivation, supply, and trade of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances illegal in Uganda.
During the parliamentary session held on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa presided over the proceedings, which included the reconsideration of certain clauses within the bill. Notably, Clause 18, which grants the Inspector General of Police authority to authorize or detain individuals in possession of such substances, was reexamined. Some MPs raised concerns about potential abuse during searches.
Furthermore, Clause 19 underwent an amendment that increased the penalty for police officers found non-compliant while executing arrests of individuals possessing narcotic drugs. The revised penalty now stands at 5 years of imprisonment.
However, a proposal put forth by Butambala Woman MP Aisha Kabanda, which aimed to exempt police and army officers found in possession of such drugs, was ultimately rejected by the majority of legislators.
The passage of this bill marks a significant step in Uganda’s efforts to combat drug-related issues and enhance control over narcotic substances.