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Overviews of legal topics

Topic Overviews cover the following areas:

Classification of controlled drugs

  • How are drugs classified at international level and why?
  • Does the EU have a standardised classification system?
  • Do different types of drugs elicit different legal responses?

Personal possession of cannabis

  • Is cannabis equal to other substances or not?
  • When are cannabis-related offences prosecuted?


Illegal consumption of drugs and the law

  • Is drug consumption per se illegal?
  • Is it prosecuted?
  Legal status of drug testing in the workplace
  • In which conditions is testing permitted?
  • What are the rights and responsibilities of the employer and employee?
  • Are there privacy or data protection issues involved?

Illegal possession of drugs

  • Is possession of drugs 'for personal use' viewed differently from other forms of possession?
  • Do the quantities and nature of the drug(s) involved affect the legal response?

Drugs and driving

  • What drugs are prohibited for drivers?
  • Can police stop drivers randomly, or do they need suspicion?
  • Should a driver be under influence, or does any trace of drugs lead to an offence?

Illegal drug trafficking

  • Is there a difference between trafficking in drugs for personal use and trafficking for commercial purposes?
  Hallucinogenic mushrooms
  • Are these controlled in Member States?
  • What happens if they grow in the wild?

Treatment alternatives to prosecution or prison

  • Are alternative measures to prosecution for drug offences available?
  • Does the offender have to be an addict?
  • Can they be used for theft offences?
  • Are they compulsory?

Legal status of opioid substitution treatment

  • What drugs are permitted for substitution treatment in the countries?
  • Who can prescribe them? Who can dispense them?
  • How are the drugs and the patients monitored? Can they be taken home?
  • What happens if the patient fails a urine test?

Penalties for precursor offences

  • Are the penalties the same as for drug trafficking offences?
  • What happens if there is just a breach of labelling requirements?

Controlled deliveries

  • If law enforcement officers want to watch a controlled delivery of drugs through the territory, who can authorise it?
  • What are the necessary requirements for authorisation?
  • Do the same laws apply to other illicit goods?

Legal Framework of Needle and Syringe Programmes

  • Are these programmes legal?
  • Can they be considered as facilitating drug use?
  • How do the police react?

Supplying illicit drugs for medical purposes

  • Is substitution treatment in breach of the international Conventions against drugs?
  • What are the legal bases for methadone prescription?
  • Is prescribing heroin for medical purposes against international law?


Threshold quantities for possession and supply offences

  • Who defines a threshold quantity?
  • How much is a small, or large, quantity of a drug?
  • How do quantities vary between different drugs?



About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Friday, 08 April 2016