Bulgaria Country Drug Report 2018

Drug laws and drug law offences

National drug laws

The Narcotic Substances and Precursors Control Act was approved in 1999. Further amendments, which were passed in 2010, harmonised the document with other national legal acts and clarified drug coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels, the roles of the different entities involved in drug-related activities and the establishment of the national focal point; several new controlled substances and plants were included.

In 2004, the Penal Code was amended to remove the clause that exonerated people who use drugs found in possession of drugs in quantities that suggested that they were for personal use. An amendment that was adopted in 2006 reduced sanctions for drug possession and also took into account the differences between high-risk and moderate-risk substances. Drug use itself is penalised as an administrative offence for high-risk drugs (List 1) and a fine of between BGN 2 000 (EUR 1 023) and BGN 5 000 (EUR 2 257) can be imposed. Minor cases of possession that were prosecuted under the Penal Code can be settled with a fine of up to BGN 1 000 (EUR 511); otherwise, possession of any drug is punished by one to six years’ imprisonment for high-risk substances and by up to five years’ imprisonment in the case of moderate-risk substances.

Trafficking carries penalties of imprisonment for two to eight years for high-risk substances and one to six years for moderate-risk substances, but particularly large amounts or other aggravating circumstances can result in prison sentences of up to 15 years.

New psychoactive substances are regulated following a decision of the National Drug Control Council and controlled under the relevant lists of the Regulation on Classification of Plants and Substances as Narcotics.

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Drug law offences

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.

In 2016, Bulgaria reported 4 886 DLOs. The majority of these offences were cannabis-related offences, followed by stimulant-related offences (involving amphetamine or MDMA/ecstasy) and heroin-related offences.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.