In an interview, Dr Gandhi says that there is logic to his demand for permission for opium cultivation and sale in Punjab and that the state government’s war on drugs is running in the wrong direction.
Opium is legally cultivated only in Mandsaur, Neemuch and Ratlam, the belt that saw farmers’ unrest over prices of other crops last June leading to the death of six farmers, including five in alleged police firing.
The 68-year-old is entitled to legal purchase of 8 kilograms of the addictive in a month, and for the past four decades, he has rarely missed eating or drinking it, thrice daily, like lakhs of others in Rajasthan.
Overdose deaths from opioids have increased almost six-fold in past two decades in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The year 2017 witnessed more than 15,000 deaths due to heroin overdose.