Post Independence Era

The Era of the Revolutionary Council Government

       Myanmar has been relentlessly combating the war against drug abuse with all its might and she signed the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs at the United Nations on 30 March 1961. The Convention came into force on 29 July 1963 and parties to the convention were obliged to promulgate laws and regulations in their countries on drug abuse control, to cooperate among the signatory countries, and to permit the production of drugs for medicinal and scientific purposes only. A delegation from Myanmar attended the UN Conference on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, which was convened in Vienna. Since the use of such substances was negligible in Myanmar and thus did not pose a serious problem, the Myanmar delegation did not sign the convention. However, Myanmar participated actively and cooperated with the international community with regard to these substances.

       On 15 August 1962, the Revolutionary Council formed an Opium Enquiry Committee and assigned it to carry out programmes on treatment of drug addicts, their rehabilitation and to amend the outdated opium laws. In 1964, an expert group from the United States together with their counterparts from Myanmar went on an excursion trip to areas where opium poppy was cultivated. In order to eradicate poppy cultivation, the government formed a committee to draw a programme for the development of Kokang region in the Shan States. During that period, the insurgents in the area started trafficking in opium and its derivatives. They produced drugs in refineries located in the border area and transported them along the border. Heroin was unheard of in the region before, but due to its production and trafficking by the insurgents, local youths ventured to try the drug and the habit of using heroin took hold in the area.

       In order to combat drug abuse, an issue that threatened the entire Myanmar race, the Revolutionary Council promulgated the 1974 Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Act on 20 February 1974. The Act comprised of thirteen chapters and prohibits the cultivation, production, processing, trafficking, and sale of drugs and it also contained procedures to take action against those who violated the provisions of the Act. According to the provisions in the Act, production and hoarding for the purpose of sale and trafficking or for the purpose of import and export of drugs could be sentenced to a minimum ten years imprisonment to death sentence. The law also required drug addicts to be registered and to take medical treatment, failure to comply would result in prosecution. With a view to combat the misuse of drugs more effectively, Amendment to the 1974 Act was promulgated in 1983 in order that those addicts who failed to register and receive medical treatment could be given heavier penalties. Then in 1988, the Act was amended again for more severe action against the drug traffickers. Moreover, in the same year, the rules and regulations were also issued in order to better implement the 1974 Act. The Act and its corresponding rule and regulations became effective tools and weapons to be used in the war against drugs.