In 2001, the national drug law was amended to decriminalise cannabis use and possession for personal use. Thus, these became illegal activities attracting a fine only; prison sentences are imposed only if there are aggravating circumstances (e.g. use in schools or in the presence of minors). Users of other illicit substances risk imprisonment for between eight days and six months and/or a fine. Prosecution may be halted or penalties reduced in cases where a drug user has taken steps to seek specialised help.
The law does not differentiate between small-scale and large-scale drug deals or distribution. Sentences for both currently range from one to five years’ imprisonment and/ or a fine, while a prison sentence of 5-10 years is imposed if the distributed drug has caused severe damage to health (e.g. an incurable disease). If the drugs had fatal consequences for the user, punishment for the distributor can be increased to 15-20 years’ imprisonment.
New psychoactive substances (NPS) are regulated and controlled by the same legal instruments as ‘established’ illicit drugs. NPS may be added in the national lists of controlled substances by means of an accelerated legal procedure.
Legal penalties: the possibility of incarceration for possession of drugs for personal use (minor offence)
NB Year of data 2015.
Since 2013, there have been large year-on-year increases in the number of drug law offenders: in 2015 a total of 3 345 drug law offenders were reported
Drug law offence (DLO) data are the foundation for monitoring drug-related crime and are also a measure of law enforcement activity and drug market dynamics; they may be used to inform policies on the implementation of drug laws and to improve strategies.
After a period of relative stability from 2006 to 2008, the number of drug law offenders increased in 2009 and 2010 before decreasing again in the following two years. Since 2013, there have been large year-on-year increases in the number of drug law offenders: in 2015 a total of 3 345 drug law offender were reported. This is more than double the amount of drug law offenders in 2006, which was a total of 1 575. These increases are attributed to an enhanced police activity in several urban drug-selling ‘hotspots’ since 2014.