Since 2001, cannabis use and possession for personal use are decriminalised, being illegal activities attracting a fine only. Prison sentences are possible 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 have 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.
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 2013-15 there were large year-on-year increases in the number of drug law offenders, with a slight decrease in 2016. The variations are attributed to changing priorities in police activity, which in recent years has focused mainly on several urban drug-selling ‘hotspots’.