Illicit drug use in the EU: legislative approaches

Series type: Thematic papers


The paper offers an overview of the current legal provisions on the use and possession of drugs for personal use in the EU Member States. The first part of the study focuses on the international legal framework governing drug use and possession, namely the United Nations Conventions (1961, 1971 and 1988). The study explains that while the three Conventions govern international drug control, it is the responsibility of the signatory countries to translate them into domestic law. All 25 EU countries have ratified and implemented the UN Conventions. The second part of the study offers a summary of the various legal approaches to the personal use of drugs at national level. These range from tolerance of the use of certain drugs to penal sanctions for any use of any substance. Also explored are the concepts of decriminalisation and depenalisation of drug use as well as the relationship between penal and health interventions.

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Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • International legal framework on drugs
  • National drug use legislation across the European Union
  • Conclusions


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