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Country overview: Moldova

  • Situation summary


Updated: December 2013

This summary was drafted in consultation with the National Drug Observatory of the Republic of Moldova, based on its ‘2011 Drug situation in the Republic of Moldova’ and other publicly available documents. The content does not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the EU and has not been subject to the usual EMCDDA data verification procedures.

Key figures
  Year Moldova Source
Surface area 2011 33 843 sq km CIA — The World Factbook
Population (1) 2012 3 559 541 National Bureau of Statistics
GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards 2011 3 261 National Bureau of Statistics
Unemployment rate (2) 2012 5.6 % National Bureau of Statistics
Unemployment rate of population aged less than 25 years (3) 2012 16.1 % National Bureau of Statistics
Prison population rate (per 100 000 inhabitants) (4) 2011 178 Council of Europe, SPACE I-2011

1 As of 1 January 2012. Since 1998 without the data on districts from the left side of the Rriver Nistru and the municipality of Bender.

2 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise those aged 15–74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work. Information is presented without the data on districts from the left side of the River Nistru and the municipality of Bender.

3 Information is presented without the data on districts from the left side of the River Nistru and the municipality of Bender.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September 2011.

The Republic of Moldova is located in the south-east of Europe. In the north, south and east the country borders with Ukraine and in the west with Romania. The Republic of Moldova gained its independence on 27 August 1991. Before 1991 the country was part of the Soviet Union. The Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary republic. The President of the Republic of Moldova is elected for a four-year term of office by the Parliament.

The total surface area is 33 843 sq km, with a total border length of 1 389 km. The main river of the country is the River Nistru. Following the currently ‘frozen’ political conflict of the 1990s, the territory on the left bank of the River Nistru is not fully controlled by the Government of the Republic of Moldova.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, 41.6 % of the population is urban and 58.4 % rural. The gender distribution is: 51.9 % female and 48.1 % male. The majority of the population (93.3 %) identify themselves as Orthodox Christians. The largest cities on the right bank of the River Nistru are the capital city, Chisinau (with a population of 794 800), and the city of Balti (148 900). Administratively, the Republic of Moldova is divided into 35 districts (rayons), three municipalities (Chisinau, Balti and Comrat), and the Transdniestrian region (National Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

Drug use among the general population and young people

General population surveys were conducted in the Republic of Moldova in 2008 and 2010 to estimate the prevalence of substance use on the basis of a representative sample of the population aged 15–64 living on the right bank of the River Nistru (Scutelniciuc et al., 2009c, 2010). In 2008 the European Model Questionnaire was included as part of the survey questionnaire. The final sample size was 3 816 respondents (1 769 males, 2 047 females); the size of the sampled population was estimated as being as high as 2 575 800. The data were weighted to bring the sample close to the official population distribution by sex, age groups and area of residence. In the 2010 study the final sample size was 4 060 respondents.

Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in the prevalence of cannabis use between 2008 and 2010, and it remains the most commonly used illegal drug in the Republic of Moldova. Both surveys confirm that the prevalence rates of cannabis use are higher in males than in females. The highest prevalence rates of cannabis use were registered in the 20–24 and 25–29 age groups. However, an increase in the lifetime prevalence rates of cannabis use among the 30–34 age group in 2010 may relate to respondents moving into an older age group between 2008 and 2010.

Table 1: Prevalence rates of cannabis use in the general population (aged 15–64), 2008 and 2010, right bank of River Nistru, Republic of Moldova (Scutelniciuc et al., 2009c, 2010)

  2008 2010
Total 3.4 0.9 0.3 3.9 0.7 0.3
Males 6.6 1.8 0.6 7.3 1.5 0.6
Females 0.5 0.1 0.1 0.8 0.1 0.1
15–19 years 3.4 1.3 0.6 2.7 1.2 1
20–24 years 6.6 2.3 0.8 6.4 1.3 0.2
25–29 years 8 2.4 0.8 6.3 2 1
30–34 years 3.6 1.6 0.2 5.9 0.4 0.4
35–49 years 2.4 0 0 3.7 0.2 0
50–64 years 0.4 0 0 1.2 0.3 0

Ecstasy was the second most prevalent drug reported in 2008 and 2010, with lifetime prevalence (LTP) rates of 0.76 and 0.6 respectively. The LTP rates of ecstasy use among males were approximately four times higher than among females. While the 2008 survey revealed that males more frequently than females reported ecstasy use during the past 12 months, in the 2010 survey the difference between genders was no longer significant.

Disaggregating the data by area of residence, it can be observed that in rural areas the prevalence rates of cannabis and ecstasy use were markedly lower than in urban areas.

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) was conducted in the Republic of Moldova in 2008 and 2011, on the right bank of the River Nistru (Scutelniciuc et al., 2009b; Vacarciuc and Costin, 2012). The data collection tool was the standardised ESPAD self-administered questionnaire. In 2008 the final sample constituted 3 170 schoolchildren born in 1992, of which 48.7 % were males and 51.3 % females, while in 2011 the final sample size was 3 816 respondents, of which 46.4 % were males and 53.6 % females.

Around 5 % of 16-year-old respondents had used cannabis or marihuana in the past. The LTP of cannabis use was almost twice as high among males as females (6 % and 3 % respectively). When compared to 2008 data, it is notable that by 2011 the LTP rates for cannabis use among the males had declined by 2 % and among the females it had increased by 1 %. In both surveys, other illegal drug use prevalence rates gave substantially lower values that overlap with the statistical margin error.

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Preventive measures targeting drug use among schoolchildren are stipulated in the Law of the Republic of Moldova No. 713-XV, dated 6 December 2001, ‘On the control and prevention of the abuse of alcohol and use of illegal drugs and other psychotropic substances’, and are further described in the National Anti-Drug Strategy for 2011–18 and the National Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2011–13. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the implementation of drug prevention activities targeting young people. Since 1 September 2005 pre-university educational institutions on the right bank of the River Nistru have included in their curricula the obligatory compulsory training course ‘Life skills education’, which included a chapter on the prevention of drug use. This optional course starts in the 6th grade, once the pupils are 13 years old, and continues until pupils turn 18 years of age and graduate from high school. The Ministry of Education also organises drug prevention campaigns in cooperation with local youth councils, works towards expanding access to youth friendly health services and promotes peer education. The National Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2011–13 anticipates the consolidation of prevention activities outside school settings and in the community.

In order to improve the preventive legal framework, in December 2008 the Parliament passed amendments to the Law of the Republic of Moldova No 713-XV, dated 6 December 2001, ‘On the control and prevention of the abuse of alcohol and use of illegal drugs and other psychotropic substances’. The law establishes that driving schools will be obliged to provide an eight-hour course in their curricula on anti-alcohol and anti-drug education, in groups of a maximum of 15 people.

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Problem drug use

The most recent national estimate of the population of injecting drug users (e.g. people who have injected drugs in past 12 months) was obtained in 2009–10 using the network scale-up method, the multiplier method and the method of unique identifiers, in three cities: Chisinau, Balti (both cities on the right bank region) and Tiraspol (a city on the left bank). The estimate derived from narcological registers in all cities, harm reduction programmes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing among the population of injecting drug users from integrated bio-behavioural studies suggests that around 31 600 injecting drug users live in the Republic of Moldova (Ministry of Health, 2011).

With regards to the drug of choice, the integrated bio-behavioural study among injecting drug users indicated that the most common recently injected substance in 2009 was an opium extract (69.2 % in Chisinau, 86.7 % in Tirsapol and 92.2 % in Balti), while about 15.3 % of drug users reported injecting methamphetamine.

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Treatment demand

Drug users might be registered in the Narcological Register via two main routes: (1) if they tested positive for the presence of drug metabolites in their saliva or urine in tests conducted at the request of the police; and (2) by accessing the healthcare system (voluntary admission to treatment or accidental detection during preventive check-ups (1)).

Once a person is considered to be a drug user by the narcological experts (following a biological liquid test for the presence of drugs and/or metabolites), s/he is compulsorily registered (entered into the Narcological Register database). The patients are also referred to the district-level narcologist for final diagnosis and treatment, according to the diagnosis and the willingness of the patient. In terms of the clinical findings, all registered cases are divided into two broad categories: drug use without addiction syndromes; and drug use with addiction syndromes. The regulation on the detection, registration and recording of people who use drugs and other psychotropic substances envisages different scenarios for each case type (Ministerul Sanatatii al Republicii Moldova, 2003). By 1 January 2012, on the right bank of the River Nistru, 9 449 people had been officially registered as drug users in the Republican Narcology Dispensary (RND) database. During 2011 some 968 newly registered cases of drug use on the right bank of the River Nistru were entered into the RND database, in comparison with 1 304 newly registered cases in 2010. The great majority of the total number of newly registered cases of drug use on the right bank of the River Nistru in 2011, some 86 %, were newly registered cases of drug use without addiction syndromes (such cases were, on average, 25 years old at the time of registration, 95 % were males and 86.2 % were cannabis users). The 127 newly registered cases with an addiction syndrome were slightly older at the time of registration (28 years) and reported using mainly opiates (91 %).

In 2012, in cooperation with experts from the EU Member States and the EMCDDA, the National Focal Point initiated a discussion to propose implementation of the monitoring system by the Ministry of Health, based on the treatment demand indicator.

(1) I.e. health status examination for military service.

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Drug-related infectious diseases

A diagnosis of newly registered HIV cases associated with injecting drug use may occur following both voluntary and direct recourse and as a result of compliance with the legal framework of the recommended HIV testing of registered injecting drug users twice per year. The diagnosis is established when the person undergoes two ELISA tests that are finally confirmed by the Western Blot test. There is a trend towards a decrease in the number of newly reported HIV cases among IDUs (2). In 2011 there were 61 newly registered cases of IDUs with HIV (224 in 2007; 136 in 2008; 62 in 2009; 59 in 2010) (EMCDDA, 2013). There are indications of a declining trend in newly registered HIV cases from 2007 on both banks of the River Nistru. However, this decline should be interpreted with caution, mainly because of some delays in a confirmative Western Blot testing for blood samples from the left bank of the River Nistru, as the only laboratory in the country performing a confirmative test is located on the right bank of the River Nistru (in the municipality of Chisinau).

Additional information is gathered through HIV seroprevalence studies, which were conducted in 2001, 2003–04, 2007 and 2009. The studies in 2001 and 2003–04 used time-location sampling by testing the lavage of syringes, the 2007 study was carried out by a probability sampling of clients attending harm reduction programmes, while in 2009 a respondent-driven sampling method was used, and therefore comparison of the results from the studies shall be made with caution. According to the results of the HIV prevalence survey conducted in 2009, the prevalence of HIV among IDUs was 12.1 % in Tiraspol, 16.4 % in Chisinau and 39.8 % in Balti. Previous studies, which covered five sites in 2001, nine sites in 2003–04 and 11 sites in 2007, found a disparity in HIV prevalence between sentinel sites, with the Municipality of Balti being the region with the highest HIV prevalence rates among IDUs (60.3 % in 2001; 36.5 % in 2003–04; 44.8 % in 2007; 39.8 % in 2009) in comparison with other sentinel sites throughout all studies (Scutelniciuc et al., 2008; Bivol, 2004; CIVIS, 2001; Integrated Bio-Behavioural Surveillance Survey Among Injecting Drug Users in 2009/2010).

The Republic of Moldova is considered an epidemic region for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). The case reporting on HBV and HCV is based on clinical diagnosis, and therefore it only identifies people in contact with the medical institutions; the figures should therefore be interpreted with caution. Between 2001 and 2008 a decline was observed in the HCV and HBV notification cases linked to injecting drug use, from 54 in 2001 to 7 in 2008.

Prevalence of HCV and HBV was studied in 2007 (among clients of the harm reduction programmes) and in 2009 (respondent-driven sampling) in Chisinau, Balti and Tiraspol. According to these studies, the prevalence of HCV in Chisinau was 36.6 % in 2007 and 72.8 % in 2009, while prevalence of HBV was 6.6 % in 2007 and 14.2 % in 2009. The prevalence of HCV in Balti was 66.9 % in 2007 and 70.2 % in 2009, while the prevalence of HBV was 3.4 % in 2007 and 14.2 % in 2009. The prevalence of HCV and HBV among IDUs in Tiraspol was below the prevalence recorded in Chisinau and Balti, and there were no significant difference in the prevalence between both studies. The same studies also examined prevalence of syphilis among injecting drug users. In 2007 the proportion of IDUs in each study city who tested positive for syphilis was 1.7–2.5 %, while in 2009 the figure in the study cities ranged between 1.3–4.2 % of IDUs. The latest study indicates that syphilis is more common among female injecting drug users and those aged 25 and over (Scutelniciuc et al., 2009a; Integrated Bio-Behavioural Surveillance Survey Among Injecting Drug Users in 2009/2010).

(2) Confirmation of HIV status by means of the Western Blot test was performed only in Chisinau.

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Drug-related deaths

The forensic examination of dead bodies is performed according to the ‘Regulations for the forensic examination of a corpse’, approved on 24 February 1999 by the Ministry of Health. In compliance with these regulations, in the event of a drug-related death (DRD) or any suspicion of one and at the request of the prosecuting body, the expert performing the autopsy must sample the biological material required for toxicological investigations (blood, urine, portions of the viscera). This procedure may result in under-reporting of DRDs. The Forensic Medicine Centre (FMC) is the only institution specialised in forensic and toxicological expertise in the Republic of Moldova on the right bank of the River Nistru. The FMC includes 34 regional offices and a specialised laboratory with four departments located nationwide, which analyses all biological samples from the entire territory.

The FMC can only carry out a qualitative analysis of the main groups of illicit drugs. It therefore does not provide adequate supporting data to enable a forensic doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. The long period of time between the sampling of biopsies and the receipt of the final toxicology results (3–4 months after the death) may result in the death being registered as due to a different cause than that ultimately ascertained by the forensic doctor. The social stigma and the complexity of the legal procedures encourage the relatives of the deceased to actively hide the real cause of death in cases of drug-related deaths.

In 2011 some 73 unnatural deaths were subject to toxicological investigations for the presence of illegal drugs, and in 20 cases the results were positive, representing 27.4 % of the total number of cases investigated and 0.6 % of the total number of cases suspected of having suffered an unnatural death (3 083 cases in 2011). Eighteen of these deaths occurred among males, and the majority were aged 25–40.

The highest number of DRDs was recorded by the FMC in 2001, when 29 cases were reported; the lowest number was recorded in 2008, when 10 cases were reported.

The general mortality register (GMR) records all deaths based on a medical death certificate, and the DRDs are extracted using one of the codes F 11.0–F 19.9, X 62.0, X 42.0 and T 40.0–T 40.9 according to the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). In 2011 only four DRDs were added to the General Registry of Mortality with their causes attributed to code X 42.0 (‘Accidental poisoning by and exposure to narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens], not elsewhere classified’). The discrepancy between the number of possible DRDs reported by FMC and the GMR is mainly linked to the procedure the GMR uses to record death cases (based on a death certificate issued by a medical doctor immediately after the death), while the results of toxicological analyses may become available later and are not further coordinated with the GMR data.

The data provided by the Republican Narcological Dispensary are gathered by district narcologists on the basis of lists of officially registered cases of drug use once they receive such knowledge. In EU/EMCDDA terms, these data are illustrative of the ‘overall mortality of registered drug users’ in the Republic of Moldova. Despite the fact that in previous years the register provided almost the same figures as the previous two sources, in 2011 no deaths linked to overdose were reported. Given the lack of information about the completeness of the reports at national level, these data should be interpreted with caution.

Apart from the partial monitoring mechanisms reported above, no research studies on DRDs were performed in the country prior to 2012.

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Treatment responses

The drug treatment system is coordinated by the Republican Narcology Dispensary (RND), which provides a wide range of outpatient and inpatient treatment, including rehabilitation. All public and private treatment centres registered in the country are obliged to provide regular reports to the Dispensary, while non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and therapeutic communities are exempt from the mandatory reporting system.

Across the country, seven national public medical institutions and one private medical institution provide detoxification, which is the main service offered to drug users. Detoxification may also be provided by the emergency and intensive care units of general hospitals. Detoxification is usually provided in inpatient units, and is covered by the mandatory medical insurance fund for those who are eligible for it, regardless of which institution provides the service. In some cases other public funding may be used to cover treatment for people from socially vulnerable groups. If people want to remain anonymous and avoid registration in the narcological register, they must pay for the service.

In November 2007 a public rehabilitation and socialisation centre within the RND with 60 places (30 for outpatient care and 30 for inpatient care) was open in Chisinau. The outpatient treatment services are provided without charge for people who are insured. The average length of the rehabilitation programme is 2.5 months. Some rehabilitation services are also provided in three regional OST treatment centres; however, comprehensive treatment for addiction following detoxification in residential institutions is not routinely available in the Republic of Moldova. Six NGOs do provide rehabilitation services in a form of therapeutic community, based on 8- and 12-step programmes, labour therapy and individual psychological counselling, but the number of treatment places in those programmes is limited.

In 2004 opioid substitution treatment (OST) using the opiate agonist methadone was introduced in the Republic of Moldova, and OST has also been available since 2005 in penitentiary institutions of the Ministry of Justice. At the end of 2011 OST was offered in three units of the RND in Chisinau, in the municipal hospital of Balti and in seven treatment units of the penitentiary system (out of 18 potentially eligible institutions).

The number of beneficiaries of substitution treatment was quite low until 2006 (73 covered at any point in time) because of the restrictive admission criteria. The admission criteria were revised in 2007, which led to an increase in the number of new clients enrolled in methadone maintenance treatment. In 2011 the Ministry of Health adopted a new national standard of treatment, care and support of drug users. By the end of 2011 a total of 983 drug users had been enrolled in substitution therapy with methadone (706 in the public health sector and 277 in the penitentiary sector).

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Harm reduction responses

The basic components of the Harm Reduction Strategy for IDUs in free settings in the Republic of Moldova are as follows:

The first harm reduction programmes were introduced in the Republic of Moldova in 1997 and provision has continued to expand, as a result of cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the non-governmental and/or public organisations, with support from the Soros Foundation in Moldova. Until now, all activities in this area have been funded through external resources.

Harm reduction responses in Moldova comprise the following main components:

  • information/education/outreach about HIV and ways of preventing it in the context of high-risk practices (distribution of informational material and condoms, workshops) in public settings, and in penitentiary settings of the Ministry of Justice;
  • provision of methadone maintenance treatment in public settings, and in penitentiary settings of the Ministry of Justice;
  • provision of clean needles and syringes to people who inject drugs in public settings, and in penitentiary setting of the Ministry of Justice;
  • referral of drug users in public settings to medical and social services (offering medical counselling, usually for sexually transmitted infections, psychological counselling, pre- and post-HIV-test counselling).

By the end of 2011 six projects were providing harm reduction services to prevent the spread of HIV among IDUs in public settings, providing in particular information/education/outreach, needle exchange and referral to medical and social services in 23 regions. These services were implemented by the NGO sector, and funded by a grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The annual number of injecting drug users registered with harm reduction programmes in the public sector has significantly increased, from 5 571 persons in 2004 to 14 815 in 2011, despite to a reduction in funding available for such services in 2010–11. However, there was a decline in the number of syringes distributed by programmes funded by the Soros Foundation, from 2.3 million in 2005 to 1.6 million in 2010; in 2011 the number increased to 1.8 million.

Activities for inmates are conducted within the medical services of the penitentiary institutions, with the involvement of outreach employees recruited from among the inmates. In 2011, within the framework of the implementation of the Harm Reduction Strategy, the information component was implemented via the distribution of informational materials and workshops on HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) prevention, which were organised in all 18 penitentiary institutions, while the needle exchange points functioning in 15 of them were open on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week.

Nationwide immunisation of newborn babies against HBV started in 1995.

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Drug markets and drug-law offences

The Republic of Moldova is perceived as a country that produces plant-based narcotic substances, although this production is limited to local needs and some decline in production has been noted since 2011. Plant-based drugs are still being produced, mainly in the north and north-east areas of Moldova, and then transported to other parts of the country and, to a very limited extent, to neighbouring Ukraine and Russia. Synthetic drugs such as ecstasy are imported from the European Union, while the production of methamphetamine (pervitine) has been registered in the country since the late 1990s. Cocaine and heroin are primarily transported through Moldova, with very small amounts diverted for consumption within the country.

The reporting of the statistical data on crimes from the left bank of the River Nistru ceased in the early 1990s, following the Trans-Dniestrian conflict, currently frozen, that divided the country into territories on the right and left banks of the River Nistru. There is also no exchange of data on drug-law offences. The data below therefore refer only to drug-law offences registered on the right bank of the River Nistru.

At the end of 2005 new modifications to the Penal Code were approved. The main modifications were made to the criminal qualification for the cultivation of plants containing drugs, which had previously qualified as an administrative offence but is now considered to be subject to penal punishment. In the list of substances approved at the end of January 2006 no new substances were added to those for which penal sanctions are applied.

A slight downward trend is noticeable in the reported number of drug-law offences, from 2 377 in 2003 to 1 526 in 2012 (1 607 in 2011; 1 773 in 2010;1 865 in 2009; 2 105 in 2008; 2 144 in 2007). The overwhelming majority of drug-law offences are related to cannabis products, and the proportion has increased from 57 % in 2009 to 71 % in 2012; drug offences related to opiates (heroin, poppy and poppy straw, opium) are the second most-frequent. In contrast to cannabis-related drug-law offences, the proportion of offences related to opiates has been declining, from 35 % in 2009 to 19 % in 2012 (Council of the European Union, 2013). In terms of geographical distribution, most drug-law offences are registered in the north of the country where the plants are cultivated. The majority of drug-law offenders are over the age of 30. Although there was an increase in the rate of drug-law offenders in this age group from 2007 to 2008 (48.2 % in 2007; 60.3 % in 2008), in the following years the proportion of these offenders declined to 49 % in 2011, while the proportion of those aged 25–29 and 16–17 increased. In 2011 the proportion of females arrested for drug-law offences was 15.9 %, which is less than in previous years (19.5 % in 2009; 27.6 % in 2008; 15.4 % in 2007). The data on the amount of drugs seized in the territory of the right bank of the River Nistru during 2009–12 are presented in the table below. The reporting was carried out on paper, and entering the data into electronic databases and further processing has generated difficulties. This fact reduces the quality of the data and of the inferences to be drawn from them.

A significant decrease in the amounts of poppy straw and acetylated opium seized was registered between 2009 and 2012.

Table 3: Amount of drugs seized, Republic of Moldova (right bank of the Dniester River), 2007–08 (Ministerul Afacerilor Interne al Republicii Moldova. 2009)

Drug Seized
2009 2010 2011 2012
Poppy straw (g) 73 600 73 884 21 465 11 960
Marijuana (g) 658 607 538 17 213 241 224 442
Acetylated opium (ml) 27 142 3 033 6 860 2 452
Ecstasy 1 854 pills 1 172 1 097 pills 3 221
Amphetamine (g) 26 2 411 286 135
Methamphetamine (g) 619 25 871 77
Poppy plants 47 749 64 993 32 413 11 255
Hemp plants 59 699 000 44 383 000 87 961 152 961
Heroin (g) 1 642 4 157 1 486 1 445
Cocaine (g) 5 958 4 52 115
Hashish (g) 25 130 35 367 15 036 89 720

Source: Ministerul Afacerilor Interne al Republicii Moldova, 2009; Council of the European Union, 2013.

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National drug laws

Simple drug use is not a crime in the Republic of Moldova, but it is an administrative offence according to Article 85 of the Administrative Offences Code passed in 2008. The innovations of the new Administrative Offences Code are the introduction of a legal entity’s liability and the application of community service as a sanction for a drug-related administrative offence. At the same time, the new code excludes the application of arrest for personal drug use. Thus, the illegal purchase or possession of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances in small amounts (3) without the purpose of distribution, as well as their consumption without a medical prescription, are sanctioned with a fine of up to three conventional units (4) or with community service of up to 40 hours.

The passing by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova of the Law No. 277-XVI dated 4 November 2005 on the amendment of the Administrative Contraventions Code, of the Penal Code of the Republic of Moldova and of the Penal Procedure Code of the Republic, increased the fines for:

  • the illegal (unauthorised) cultivation of plants that contain drugs or psychotropic substances, in small amounts and without the purpose of distribution;
  • the unauthorised production, preparation, processing, experimenting, purchasing, storing, delivery, transportation, distribution, or carrying out of any other operations with precursors.

It also defined the penal sanctions for the large-scale illegal (unauthorised) cultivation of plants that contain drugs or psychotropic substances, the illegal circulation of precursors with the purpose of producing or processing drugs, psychotropic substances, or their analogues, and the illegal circulation of materials and equipment designed for the production or processing of drugs, psychotropic substances or their analogues.

According to the amendments made to the Penal Code in 2008, the punishments for drug-related crimes were reduced, with (depending on the case) the application of alternatives to imprisonment, such as community service, being promoted and their use increased.

Following the Law of the Republic of Moldova No. 277-XVI, dated 4 November 2005, the amount of every type of drug that serves as a basis for its possession being considered a crime or an administrative offence has been defined by the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Moldova No. 79, dated 23 January 2006, ‘On the approval of the list of drugs, psychotropic substances, and plants that contain these substances, identified in trafficking, and their amounts’. The 2008 amendments to the list are characterised by an increase in the minimum amounts of drugs rendering the possessor liable to penal sanctions. Aprophen (5) and phenazepam (6) were added in this list in 2008.

Law No. 382-XIV, of 6 May 1999, ‘On the circulation of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and precursors’, is the main piece of legislation promoting the state drug policy. This law sets up the institutional framework for promotion of the state policy on drugs and psychotropic substances; it regulates the circulation (import, export, transit, use, deposit, destruction, etc.) of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors, and regulates the authorisation of the circulation of these substances. New amendments to the law were passed in 2008 and 2011. The latest amendment provides a legal base for establishing the National Anti-Drug Commission and defines its competences.

(3) In compliance with the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Moldova No. 79, dated 23 January 2006, ‘On the approval of the list of drugs, psychotropic substances, and plants that contain these substances, identified in the trafficking, and their amounts’.

(4) One conventional unit is equal to MDL 20 or EUR 1.3 (the medium exchange rate in 2008 was EUR 1 = MDL 15.2916).

(5) Muscarinic antagonist.

(6) Benzodiazepine drug.

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National drug strategy

On 27 December 2010 the Government adopted the National Anti-Drug Strategy for 2011–18 and the National Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2011–13, which is an integral part of the Strategy. The Strategy describes the current drug situation in the country and defines objectives, actions and measures, as well as clarifying the roles and responsibilities of different actors involved in the fight against drugs at the national level. This is a second national drug strategy and, similar to the first one, continues to support a balanced approach to address drugs and drug-use related problems. The Strategy is built on the four pillars of: (1) primary prevention; (2) treatment and rehabilitation; (3) harm reduction; and (4) drug supply reduction.

It is envisaged that the strategy will: contribute to the stabilisation and reduction of drug use at the population level, and especially among young people, by limiting accessibility to illicit substances; minimise the economic, health, social, criminal and security risks related to drugs; increase the quality of life of people using drugs through the provision of comprehensive harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation services; and decrease or eliminate domestic production of plants containing narcotics.

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Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

With the adoption of the new National Anti-Drug Strategy for 2011–18 and further amendments to the Law ‘On the circulation of narcotic and psychotropic substances and their precursors’, the Interdepartmental Commission for Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking Control, established in 2000, was replaced by the National Anti-Drug Commission. The National Anti-Drug Commission is an interdepartmental Government body. The nominal composition of the Commission was adopted by Government Decision No. 481 of 4 July 2011. It consists of 19 members representing different line ministries and central authorities whose activity is related to the prevention and tackling of illicit drug use and trafficking. Membership of the central-level institutional part of the Commission in 2011 is as follows: Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Youth and Sports; Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration; Border Service; Customs Service; Intelligence and Security Service and Medicines Agency; the Soros Foundation — Moldova; and UNODC. The main tasks of the Commission are to stipulate implementation of the UN Conventions at the national level, oversee implementation of national drug policy, including the National Anti-Drugs Strategy and the relevant action plans, and coordinate the activities of different actors involved in the implementation of the Strategy. The Commission is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. The Commission held four meetings on the implementation of the National Anti-Drug Action Plan for 2011–13 during 2011.

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Bivol, S. (2004), Epidemiological Surveillance of HIV/AIDS, Moldova 2004, TEHNICA-INFO, Chisinau.

Centre of Sociological, Politological, and Psychological Analysis and Investigations (CIVIS) (2001), The Behaviour of Injecting Drug Users, CIVIS, Chisinau.

Council of the European Union (2013), Regional Report for Eastern Europe and Caucasus, 11446/13, CORDROGUE 61 COEST 161.

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Integrated Bio-Behavioural Surveillance Survey Among Injecting Drug Users in 2009/2010.

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