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1. Introduction
There are no universal accepted definitions of the expressions “Narcotic Drugs” and “Psychotropic
substances”. The expression Narcotics has originated from the Greek word Narkoticos the meaning of
which is benumbing or deadening. The expression Narcotic is generally used to refer
to a class of drugs that are central nervous system depressants and which produce insensibility or
stupor. The expressions Narcotic as ordinarilybused refers to opioids i.e., opium, the derivatives of
opium and their semisyntheticbor wholly synthetic substitutes. Certain substances grouped as
Narcotic drugs either in the single convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 or in the NDPS Act are
pharmacologically not Narcotic drugs but belong to certain groups of psychoactive substances like
stimulants, hallucinogens etc. for example, cannabis and cocaine come under the purview of the
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. Under the NDPS Act, they are classified as Narcotic
drugs. However, pharmacologically they do not belong to the group of Narcotics. While cocaine
belongs to the group of stimulants, cannabis is a drug of its own class. It is more akin to the group
of hallucinogens than to the group of Narcotics. The 1931 conference which adopted the convention
for limiting the manufacture and regulating the distribution of Narcotic Drugs, 1931 had asked a sub-
committee which comprised technical experts to suggest a definition of the expression
Narcotic drugs that might be used in the convention. That committee reported that it was unable to
frame a definition that was considered satisfactory.The expression psychotropic substance is derived
historically rather than pharmacologically in its connotation. The drugs grouped as 29
psychotropic substances either in the convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 or in the NDPS
Act do not have any. Common characteristics which justify their grouping as psychotropic substances
as distinguishable from; the group of Narcotic drugs. It was the international concern against increase
in cases of poisoning brought out by amphetamines, a group of stimulants in many parts of the world
that brought out the Convention' on psychotropic substances, 1971. Those substances that were not
under international control at that point of time,which belonged to the group of substances known as
stimulants, barbiturates, tranquilizers and hallucinogens were sought to be brought under the
international control envisaged under the convention on psychotropic substances, 1971. Therefore, the
substances known as psychotropic substances broadly belong to the groups of stimulants,
barbiturates, tranquilizers and hallucinogens. Some of the substances belonging to these groups, like
cocaine etc have already been grouped as Narcotic drugs under the single convention on Narcotic
drugs, 1961.
2. Classification
Drugs can be classified on the basis of their effects on human system or better on the mind of a
person. The effects can be sedation, stimulation or hallucination. However, when the drugs under
sedation aredescribed in two separate categories of Narcotics and depressants, it creates
a clear picture of the realm of drugs abuse. It is due to the reason that Narcotics have their own
historical importance, which makes them a category apart from other similar drugs to be dealt as
depressants. Thus, drugs can be classified in four categories such as Narcotics, depressants,
stimulants and hallucinogens. Drugs under category hallucinogen generally
cause psychological dependence, where other classes of drugs cause both type of severe dependence.

(I) Narcotics
It refers to opium, opium derived substances, semi synthetic opium derivative and synthetic
substitutes similar in effects of opiates. Moreover all painkillers form the category of drugs-Narcotics.
Drugs have analgesic and sedative properties. It is due to these properties of drugs that mankind
is practicing their use especially of opium as strong pain killer, cough suppressant and for diarrhea
treatment. Narcotics, within limits, do notcause loss of motor coordination or slurred speech as is the
case with depressants. These are opium, morphine, codeine and poppy husk which
also contain morphine.
(a) Opium
According to Sec. 2 (xv) of NDPS Act “opium” means - (a) the coagulated juice of the opium poppy,
and (b) any mixture, with or without any neutral material, of the coagulated juice of the opium poppy,
but does not include any preparation containing not more than 0.2per cent. Of morphine:
Sec. 2 (xvi) “opium derivative” means -(a) medicinal opium, that is, opium which has undergone the
processes necessary to adapt it for medicinal use in accordancewith the requirements of the Indian
Pharmacopoeia or any otherpharmacopoeia notified in this behalf by the Central Government,
whether in powder form or granulated or otherwise or mixed with neutral materials; (b) prepared
opium, that is, any product of opium by any series of operations designed to transform opium into an
extract suitable for smoking and the dross or other residue remaining after opium is smoked;
(c) phenanthrene alkaloids, namely, morphine, codeine, thebaine and their slats;(d) diacetylmorphine,
that is, the alkaloid also known as diamorphine or heroin and its salts; and (e) all preparations
containing more than 0.2 per cent. Of morphineor containing any diacetylmorphine; Sec 2. (xvii)
“opium poppy” means-(a) the plant of the species Papaver somniferum L.; and (b) the plant of any
other species of Papaver from which opium drany phenanthrene alkaloid can be extracted and which
the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be opium poppy for
the purposes of this Act; Sec.'2. (xviii) “poppy straw” means all parts (except the seeds) of the
opium poppy after harvesting whether in their original form or cut, crushed or powdered and whether
or not juice has been extracted therefrom; Sec. 2. (xix) “poppy straw concentrate” means the material
arising when poppy straw has entered into a process for the concentration of its
The milky exudates of unripe capsules of plant Papaver Somniferum
L. is called opium. The name has been derived from Greek word ‘Opion’, which means poppy juice.
The product acquires dark brown colour on exposure to air. At least 25 alkaloids can be extracted
from opium. For legal requirements, the opium should contain morphine in more than 0.2
per cent quantities. The Chinese government fought two opium wars in an attempt to forbid the import
of opium into their country. First war was fought with England from April 1840 to August 1842.
China has to part with Hong Kong for 155 years in their Treaty of Nanking with British.
signed on 29 August 1842.. The British again defeated China and the French in Second Opium War
fought in between 1856-1858. Treaty of Tientsin resulted into legalizing of opium trafficking into
China. Chinese used to hate opium and called it ‘Foreign Black Mud’. In India from early
days Opium eating and smoking was treated as an indication of majesty of landlords, rich people and
higher ups. A lump of Opium dried over a flame to shape into a pellet was termed as ‘Chandu’. It was
smoked in pipes and hookas. Poorer people smoked dross, burnt out remains of Chandu, which
contains highly poisonous toxins. In India the cultivation of poppy islegally allowed in parts of the
State of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where the opium thus produced is meant for medical uses
only. The principal alkaloids contained in opium are Morphine (10%), Codeine (2%),
Thebaine (0.5%), Papaverine (0.2%) and Narcotine (5%). Content of different alkaloids varies
according to geographic locations of the land growing poppy plants. Three of opium alkaloids
morphine, codeine and thebaine, termed, as phenanthrene alkaloids are the controlled substances.
Morphine and codeine are responsible for Narcotic effect of opium. However sedative
effect of morphine is many times more than that of codeine itself. Morphine is one of the most
effective pain killer drugs of natural origin known to the mankind. Huge quantities of morphine are
converted to codeine chemically.
Codeine is an alkaloid of opium, which is the mostly used naturally occurring Narcotic drug. It is a
less effective analgesic compared to morphine. It is used for the relief of mild to moderate pain and in
treating cough. The pharmacological profile of codeine is comparable to that of
morphine. Tolerance to codeine develops much as with morphine.Qualitatively, codeine and
morphine have similar physical dependence
producing properties. Dihydrocodeine, a derivative of codeine, is a more potent analgesic.
Pholcodeine, another derivative of codeine is used in cough syrups, codeine in.combination with
glutethimide or carisoprodal are available in the illicit market. Codeine is mainly used as cough
suppressant in addition to its use in tablet form for relief of moderate pain. Thebaine, a
minor alkaloid of opium, is the principal alkaloid present in another species of poppy named as
papaver bracteatum. It spite of the fact that thebaine is chemically similar to morphine and codeine,
yet its medical effect is contrary to both of these alkaloids. Semi synthetic Narcotics substances are
prepared by chemical modifications of the alkalodis contained in opium.2
(b) Heroin
The name has been derived from German word “Heroish” which means strong. British scientist C.R.
Alder Wright first prepared it in 1874. Heroin is three times more potent than its parent compound
morphine for its Narcotic effects. To extract pure morphine from opium, water slurry of
opium treated with lime, is filtered through coarse cloth. Filterate is treated with ammonium chloride
until the morphine precipitates. It is dried to remove moisture content. Highly pure form of heroin is
prepared by acetylation of morphine with acetic anhydride or acetyl chloride. However,
crude form of heroin called as street heroin is prepared by direct acetylation
of dried opium. Majority of the huge opium produce of Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent is now
converted to heroin, which has now resulted the heroin as one of the most abused drug on this earth.
In the early part of the 20th century, some countries due to its acceptance allowed its legal
commercial production by medical profession as very strong painkiller. After its recognition as a
strong habit forming drug, creating severe psychological and physical dependence, its production and
use has been totally banned by all the countries. Despite this its illegal commercial
production could not be stopped yet. This drug has different names in
different countries such as
Heroin, Diacetylmorphine, Diamorphine,
DAM, H, Smack, Heroin No. 1 to 4, Black tar, Horse, Rock, Brown
Sugar, Hong Kong Rock.3
Similarly, there are other semi-synthetic drugs, which are prepared
from opium derived alkaloids. Hydromorphone, is prepared from morphine
and is sold as Dilaudid in the market. Hydrocodone, oxymorphone,
oxycodone, nalbuphine and naloxone are Narcotic antagonists, which
reverse the effect of Narcotics. Etorphine (M 99) again prepared from
Thebaine is 1000 times more potent than morphine. Etorphine finds its use
in veterinary profession for tranquilizing larger ferocious animals.
Diprenorphine (M 50 : 50)a Thebaine derivative is used to counteract the
effect of Etorphine.4
(c) Morphine
Morphine, an alkaloid of opium was first isolated in the year 1803.
It was named after Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams. It is one
of the most useful analgesics that can afford relief from many kinds of
pain, resulting from various causes. It also produces a number of other
effects that may be desirable or undesirable. The desirable effects include a
sense of well-being, euphoria, relief from anxiety and modified intestinal
activity. Some of undesirable effect of morphine are that it causes
respiratory depression and contracts smooth muscles particularly of biliary
and urinary tracts. Important adverse effects of it are psychic and physical
dependence. Tolerance develops on repeated administration.5