In 2001, cannabis use and possession for personal use were decriminalised and are now punishable only by a fine. Prison sentences are possible if there are aggravating circumstances (e.g. use in schools or in the presence of minors). Users of other illicit substances risk imprisonment for between 8 days and 6 months and/or a fine. Prosecution may be halted or penalties reduced if a drug user has taken steps to seek specialised help.
The law does not differentiate between small-scale and large-scale drug deals or distribution. Sentences for both currently range from 1 to 5 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine, while a prison sentence of 5-10 years is imposed if the distributed drug has caused severe damage to health (e.g. an incurable disease). If the drugs have fatal consequences for the user, punishment for the distributor can be increased to 15-20 years’ imprisonment.
New psychoactive substances (NPS) are regulated and controlled by the same legal instruments as ‘established’ illicit drugs. NPS may be added in the national lists of controlled substances by means of an accelerated legal procedure.
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.
Between 2013 and 2015, there were large year-on-year increases in the number of drug law offenders, with a slight decrease in 2016 and 2017.