Latvia Country Drug Report 2019

Drug laws and drug law offences

National drug laws

In Latvia, the unauthorised use, acquisition and storage of small amounts of illicit drugs are administrative offences punishable by a warning or a fine of up to EUR 280. The possession of larger amounts of drugs for personal use (precisely defined in the law ‘On the procedures for the coming into force and application of the criminal law’) can lead to a criminal penalty of up to 3 years in prison.

The repeated unauthorised use, preparation, acquisition or possession of small amounts of illicit drugs within 12 months of a previous offence is a criminal offence and is punishable by a short term of imprisonment of between 15 days and 3 months, community service or a fine.

The court is able to impose treatment with a suspended sentence, or to release a drug user from criminal or administrative liability if the user has agreed to undergo treatment; however, no underlying control mechanism has been established for this.

Trafficking of any quantity of drugs may be punishable by 2-8 years’ imprisonment, increasing to 3-10 years if the offender is part of a group, or 5-15 years if a large amount of illicit drugs was trafficked or an organised group was involved. The unauthorised sale of small amounts of drugs is punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years.

Since 2013, new psychoactive substances (NPS) have been controlled individually or in generic groups, and supply-related activities can be temporarily controlled for a period of up to 12 months. Such activities were initially punishable with a fine, but since 2014 have been criminal offences, punishable by up to 2 years in prison, or 5 years if such actions cause substantial harm. In addition, in 2014 the personal possession of NPS became an administrative offence, punishable with a fine of up to EUR 280, and the possibility of a criminal charge if the offence is repeated within 1 year. As is the case for established drugs, the mode of punishment (administrative or criminal) for NPS-related offences depends on the amount of substance involved (small or large), although drug trafficking always incurs criminal liability.


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.

Data on DLOs from Latvia indicate that the majority of offences were related to the possession or use of drugs. The number of offences has gradually increased over the past decade, with the highest number reported in 2015. This is partly explained by the changes in definitions. In 2017, the number of reported drug law offences decreased from 2016.

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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.