Greece Country Drug Report 2018

Drug laws and drug law offences

National drug laws

The Greek drug law of 1987 and its amendments were significantly modified in 1993, 2006, 2009 and 2013. The law distinguishes between drug possession/acquisition for personal use and for commercial use, and the punishment varies accordingly. In general, the 2013 law (Law No 4139/2013) establishes more lenient sanctions. It stipulates that individuals using drugs or obtaining or otherwise processing drugs for personal use only, in quantities to satisfy their own needs, or cultivating cannabis plants in numbers and areas justified for personal use only, can be sentenced to no more than five months in prison. The offence is not recorded on the offender’s criminal record on the condition that he or she does not commit another relevant offence within a five-year period. Upon the order of the investigating judge, offenders may be admitted to a special treatment unit operating in a prison setting or a community drug treatment programme operated by a lawfully recognised agency (the law specifies the recognised drug agencies). For offenders who are undergoing treatment, the imposition of the penalty can be suspended. The 2013 amendment also removed the definitions of all quantities of substances for personal use from the previous law; this decision is now left to judges, based on the substance, its quantity and purity, and the needs of the offender.

Those convicted of drug supply may be sentenced to up to three years’ imprisonment if addicted or sharing in a group, or at least eight years’ imprisonment if not. A life sentence is possible in very special cases, such as trafficking by medical professionals, teachers, drug therapists, etc. There is also provision for a fine of EUR 50 000 to EUR 500 000, reaching EUR 1 million in special cases. The Greek drug law also states that a drug-dependent offender charged with drug dealing can be considered for conditional release, provided that he or she (i) has served a minimum of one fifth of the sentence and (ii) has successfully and certifiably completed drug treatment. He or she is then referred to reintegration structures outside prison.

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Drug law offences

Drug law offence (DLO) data are the foundation for monitoring drug-related crime and they 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 Greece, the Hellenic Police and other prosecution authorities report a steady increase in the number of DLOs and drug law offenders since 2012. The majority of the DLOs in 2016 were linked to the use or possession of illicit substances. Approximately two thirds of the offences were related to cannabis, followed by opioid-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.