Croatia Country Drug Report 2019

Drug laws and drug law offences

National drug laws

In Croatia, drug control is mainly covered by two legal acts: the Drug Abuse Prevention Act (DAPA) and the Criminal Code. The DAPA, passed in November 2001 and updated since then, regulates conditions for the manufacture of, possession of and trade in drugs, substances and precursors. It prohibits unauthorised drug cultivation, possession and trafficking and provides for fines for legal entities that are in breach of drug trading regulations and for individuals who cross the border without declaring psychoactive medicines. More serious offences are prosecuted under the Criminal Code. Discarding syringes and failing to notify the police of suspicious events are specific offences too. The DAPA also outlines a system for the prevention of drug use and for assistance to drug users.

Since January 2013, the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use has been considered not a criminal offence but a misdemeanour under the DAPA and is punishable by a fine ranging between EUR 650 and EUR 2 600. The judgement on whether the quantity can be classed as ‘small’ is made by the state prosecutor or court in each case. Illegal cultivation or production and processing of drugs with no intention to sell is punishable by 6 months to 5 years in prison. Illegal production, processing, possession, import and export with intention to sell are punishable by 1-12 years’ imprisonment, which, under aggravating circumstances, including the involvement of children or a network or the possibility of serious health damage, may increase to at least 3 years’ or even 5-15 years’ imprisonment; involvement in organised crime may increase the custodial sentence to 20 years. Precursor trafficking carries a penalty of 6 months to 5 years’ imprisonment.

The Criminal Code urges the court to use a number of alternative measures to imprisonment, such as fines, community service, probation and treatment, in cases in which a prison sentence of up to 6 months would otherwise be imposed. The offence may also be dismissed if it is considered ‘insignificant’. Compulsory drug treatment may be prescribed for up to 3 years, and time spent in treatment is taken into account when sentencing.

Following a growing problem with new psychoactive substances, a generic approach to drug classification was introduced in 2014 to ensure that many substances are controlled under the relevant drug laws.


Drug law offences

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.

Statistical data indicate that, in 2017, most DLOs in Croatia were misdemeanours related to use/possession, while approximately one out of five DLOs was related to illegal production, smuggling or sale of drugs. The total number of reported DLOs has overall shown a slight upward trend since 2010. Most DLOs are linked to cannabis, followed by amphetamines and MDMA/ecstasy.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.