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Threshold quantities for drug offences

The EMCDDA has already published a Comparative Analysis on "The role of the quantity in the prosecution of drug offences" in 2003.  That report examined countries in detail, considering if their laws mentioned quantities, how they were implemented (in law, in guidelines, judicial practice) and using what measurement (doses, grams, value...). This was updated and supported with a table in Annex 1 of the 2005 Thematic Paper "Illicit Drug Use in Europe; Legislative Approaches". Both are available in the ELDD's Legal Reports section.

This Topic Overview aims to summarise the information and simplify comparison between quantity limits for the four most common drugs. Separate tables are given: quantities established for personal possession offences and quantities established for supply offences.  Where available, weights are given as Total Weight (TW) or Active Principle (AP), thus the latter will be adjusted for purity / potency.

Regarding EU legislation, Article 4 of the "Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking" requires that maximum penalties for trafficking etc should be more than a defined minimum "if the offence involves large quantities of drugs".

The offences listed in the "Threshold between:" column are not precise, but are standardised terms to aid comparability in the table. These standardised terms may be based on the wording of the offences, or the variation in penalty. There can still be a considerable difference between two countries' offences or penalties that are described using the same terms; details of each country's exact definition can be found in the respective Topic Overview on Drug Possession or Drug Trafficking.

In some countries, quantities are mentioned in the law as small or large, but no quantitative limits have been set out in legislation or police/prosecutor guidelines; these are interpreted by expert opinion and/or judicial precedent.

The two tables illustrate a number of points:

  • Quantities may be established at different legal levels; in laws, in ministerial decrees, in prosecutor guidelines or sentencing guidelines.
  • Some countries draw up extensive lists of substances, others will only apply a defined quantity limit to a few substances. 
  • Different countries opt for different quantities for similar offences; eg criminal prosecution for possession of cannabis resin will start with 0.25g in Lithuania but with 6g in many German Laender.
  • Drugs are treated quite differently within each country.  For a given offence, the established weight threshold of cannabis herb may be equal to that of resin (Belgium), or twenty times more (Lithuania). The weight threshold for cannabis may be three times (Cyprus) or ten times (Netherlands) that of heroin.  The weight threshold of cocaine may be equal to that of heroin (eg Norway), or ten times heavier (eg Lithuania).

Threshold quantities for personal possession offences

Country Definition of quantity in law / guidelines Threshold between: Drugs listed and/or general rule? Cannabis Ecstasy Heroin Cocaine
Belgium Col.2/2005 Joint directive of the Minister of Justice and the College of General Prosecutors on the registration and prosecution of cannabis possession offences. Non-criminal offence / Crime of personal possession Limited list Resin or herbal 3g (TW), or 1 plant n/a n/a n/a
Czech Republic Misdemeanour Act. s. 30/1/j / Act No. 40/2009 Coll, Penal Code s. 284 + Opinion of Supreme Court 15 Tdo 1003/2013 Non-criminal offence /crime of personal possession Limited list Resin 5 g TW, herbal 10g TW OR Resin more than 5g TW with less than 1g THC, herbal more than 10g with less than 1g THC Ecstasy (MDMA, MDA, MDEA): 4 tablets or 0,4g powdery or crystalline substance (TW) OR more then 4 tablets or 0,4g powdery or crystalline substance (TW) with less than 0,34g AP (MDMA/MDEA) or 0,33 g AP (MDA) or 0,40 g hydrochloride of AP 1,5 g (TW) OR more than 1,5g TW with less than 0,2g AP or 0,22g hydrochloride of AP 1 g (TW) OR more than 1g TW with less than 0,2g AP or 0,22g hydrochloride of AP
Germany Narcotics Act (BtMG) section 29 subs. 5 (Criminal offences), section 31(a) (Refraining from prosecution); different Laender guidelines; judicial practice No action / criminal offence (crime of personal possession) Limited list Limits vary from 6g (or 3 doses at 2g) -15g; 14 Laender have set limit at 6g (TW) 1 Land has set a limit in its guidelines (3g), others: judicial practice 2 Laender have set a limit (1g), others: judicial practice 1 Land has set a limit at 1g, 1 Land at 3g, others: judicial practice
Estonia Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, s.15.1 Non-criminal offence / crime of supply General rule - ten times a single dose of an average drug user Based on judicial practice / expert opinions
Spain Art.25-28 on the Law 1/1992 on the protection of public safety. Judicial precedents set the maximum for this as quantities for five days of consumption. Daily consumption quantity was established by the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Toxicologia on 31/01/2004 and published by Intelligence Centre of Organised Crime (CICO) Non-criminal offence / Crime of personal possession Limited list - 5 days of consumption Resin 25 g. herbal 100 g. 2.4 g 3 g. 7.5 g.
Italy DPR309/90 Art 72-75; Ministry of Health Decree of 11 April 2006 Non-criminal offence / crime of personal possession Extensive list THC 1g (AP) 0.75g 0.25g 0.75g
Cyprus Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, s.30A Diversion to health measure / crime of personal possession Limited list. For other drugs - less than 20g Resin or herbal 30g; 3 plants 20g 10g 10g
        Cannabis Ecstasy Heroin Cocaine
Lithuania Code of Administrative Offences Art. 44; Penal Code, Arts.259; Order No V-314 of the Minister of Healthcare of April 23, 2003 Nr.V-239 Non-criminal offence / crime of personal possession Extensive list Resin 0.25g; herbal 5g; THC 0.5g 0.2g 0.02g 0.2g
Crime of personal possession / supply Extensive list Resin 125g; herbal 2500g; THC 25g 100g 10g 100g
Hungary Act 4 of 1978 (Penal Code) s.283(1) and Act 5 of 1979 (Explanatory regulation for the Penal Code) s.23(1) Alternative to criminal procedure / crime of personal possession Extensive list 1g THC (AP) 1g MDA,MDMA,1-PEA, N-metil-1-PEA (AP) or 0.5g amphetamine (AP) 0.6g (AP) 2g (AP)
Netherlands Opium Act Directive No action / prosecution for personal possession Limited list Resin 5g; 5 plants One tablet/ ampoule/ ball or 0.5g One tablet/ ampoule/ ball or 0.5g One tablet/ ampoule/ ball or 0.5g
Crime of personal possession / supply Only cannabis Resin 30g n/a n/a n/a
Austria SMG, s.28b; Narcotics Limits Decree BGBl. II Nr. 377/1997, as amended Crime of personal possession / supply Extensive list THC 20g 30g 3g 15g
Poland Act on Countering Drug Addiction Art.62(2) Crime of personal possession / aggravated possession General rule - substantial quantity Judicial practice
Portugal Law 30/2000 Art 2(2) (Lei 30/2000 Art 2(2) de 29 de Novembro) Administrative Rule 94/96 of the 26 of March (Portaria 94/96 de 26 de Março) Non-criminal offence / supply Limited list. General rule - 10 days' average consumption Resin 5g; herbal 25g; THC 5g,   Oil 2.5g 1g 1g 2g
Slovenia Law on Production of and Trade in Illicit Drugs (1999) (Article 33) Minor non-criminal offence / Non-criminal offence General rule - possessing a smaller quantity of illicit drugs for one-off personal use. Judicial practice
Slovakia Criminal Code s171, s135 Crime of personal possession / aggravated possession General rule - up to 3 doses Case-by-case expert evaluation
Crime of aggravated possession / crime of supply General rule - up to 10 doses Case-by-case expert evaluation
Finland Penal Code Chapter 50:2a; Directions of Office of Prosecutor-General VKS:2006:1 Crime of user-offence / crime of narcotics offence Extensive list Resin 10g, herbal 15g 10 tablets 1g TW 1.5g TW
Norway Act relating to medicines; General Civil Penal Code s.162; Circular 1/1998 from Director General of Public Prosecutions Crime of user-offence / crime of narcotics offence Limited list. General rule - 1-2 user doses 10 - 15 g 5 tablets 0,5 g 0,5 g

Threshold quantities for supply offences

Country Definition of quantity in law / guidelines Threshold between: Drugs listed and/or general rule? Cannabis Ecstasy Heroin Cocaine
Czech Republic Act No. 40/2009 Coll, Penal Code s. 283 + Opinion of Supreme Court 15 Tdo 1003/2013 Supply / aggravated supply Limited list 10x (s.283/1, 2d), 100x (s.283/1, 2c), 1000x (s.283/1, 3c) quantities "larger than small", above
Germany Narcotics Act (BtMG) section 29(a), 30(a) (Criminal offences) Supply / aggravated supply General rule - "quantities which are not small" Judicial practice
Estonia Penal Code s.184 Supply / aggravated supply General rule - "large quantities"  
Ireland Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, s.15a Supply / aggravated supply General rule - value over 13 000 euros  
Spain Agravated supply is set out in Penal Code Art.369; Judicial precedents set this as over 500 days of consumption. Daily consumption quantity was established by the Spanish Instituto Nacional de Toxicologia on 31/01/2004 Supply / aggravated supply Limited list Resin 2.5kg herbal 10 kg 240g 300g 750g
Lithuania Penal Code, Art.260; Order No V-314 of the Minister of Healthcare of April 23, 2003 Nr.V-239 Supply / aggravated supply Extensive list Resin 25g; herbal 500g; THC 5g 20g 2g 20g
Different levels of aggravated supply Extensive list Resin 125g; herbal 2.5kg; THC 25g 100g 10g 100g
Hungary Penal Code ss.282(2), 282/A(3), s.282/B(3), 282/C(4) and Act 5 of 1979 (Explanatory regulation for the Penal Code) s.23(3) Supply / aggravated supply General rule (more than 20 times the small amount) 20g THC (AP) 20g MDA,MDMA,1-PEA, N-metil-1-PEA (AP) or 10g amphetamine (AP) 12g (AP) 40g (AP)
Penal Code ss.282(5), 282/A(6), s.282/B(7), 282/C(5) and Act 5 of 1979 (Explanatory regulation for the Penal Code) s.23(1) Minor supply / supply Extensive list 1g THC (AP) 1g MDA,MDMA,1-PEA, N-metil-1-PEA (AP) or 0.5g amphetamine (AP) 0.6g (AP) 2g (AP)
Netherlands Opium Act Directive Supply / aggravated supply cannabis, or 500 units of soft drug Resin 500g; 200 plants n/a n/a n/a
        Cannabis Ecstasy Heroin Cocaine
Austria SMG s.28a(2)(3), s.28a(4)(3); Narcotics Limits Decree BGBl. II Nr. 377/1997, as amended Supply / aggravated supply 15x threshold quantity 300g THC 450g 45g 225g
Different levels of aggravated supply 25x threshold quantity 375g THC 750g 75g 375g
Poland Act on Countering Drug Addiction Arts. 53(2), 55(3) and 56(3) Supply / aggravated supply General rule - substantial quantity Judicial practice
Portugal Decree-Law 15/93, Art.25 Minor supply / supply Of minor gravity, considering the quantity  
Slovakia Criminal Code s172(2) Supply / aggravated supply On a larger scale (with a street value of over 10 times the "baseline" amount of 8000 Skk/ approx €266)
Criminal Code s172(3) Different levels of aggravated supply On a considerable scale (with a street value of over 100 times the "baseline" amount)
Criminal Code s172(4) Different levels of aggravated supply On a large scale (with a street value of over 500 times the "baseline" amount)
Finland Penal Code Chapter 50:1 and 50:2; Sentencing guidelines 2006 Supply / aggravated supply Extensive list Resin 1 kg 300 tablets 15 g TW 30 g TW

Page last updated: Friday, 21 August 2015