Action follows hospitalisation of a 13-year-old who ate sweet laced with ‘bhang’.
Following the hospitalisation of a 13-year-old boy who consumed a sweet laced with ‘bhang’, the Food Safety Department conducted raids in several parts of the city on Tuesday.
Four teams conducted raids in Broadway, Sowcarpet, Perambur, Ashok Nagar and Purasawalkam High Road and seized 187 kg of banned tobacco products from 81 shops. One vendor has been arrested.
‘Bhang’ is an edible preparation of cannabis used in food and drink.
“One shop in Tondiarpet had a packet containing 25 pieces of the sweet laced with ‘bhang’,” said R. Kathiravan, designated officer of the department. The substance, he explained, was similar to ‘puli mittai’ and was being marketed as an Ayurvedic drug and illegally sold to students.
“We have handed over the vendor to the local police,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, a doctor at the Institute of Child Health said the 13-year-old student had shown signs of improvement on Tuesday. “He is no longer on ventilator support. We are hoping he recovers soon,” the doctor said.
Meanwhile, child rights activists formed a fact-finding team and visited schools in Kodambakkam, including the one where the 13-year-old studies. “Apart from the corporation school in Patel Nagar, no other school has recorded such incidents. However we hope the children are not using it,” said S. Cyril Alexander, State Convenor of Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC).
Two other boys, who also consumed the drug-laced sweets in small quantities, complained of illness and nausea. “The boys were introduced to it by a vendor in Kodambakkam. We explained to the children the seriousness of the matter,” Alexander said.
“The boys said the product was sold during a religious festival near Kodambakkam Power House,” said M.S.Santhamary, project officer at Arunodaya.
Strict action sought
Activists demanded that anyone possessing or selling marijuana be booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. “We found that the substance came from Indore. It is legal there.The police have arrested the vendor and booked him under the Act, but are waiting for lab reports to know the marijuana content in the product,” he said.
“We expect the school authorities to keep a close watch on their students” said Andrew Sesuraj from the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory (TNCRO).