EMCDDA Document library

Drug law and young people 2000–2004


One of the targets of the EU action plan is ‘to reduce significantly over five years the prevalence of drug use, as well as new recruitment to it, particularly among young people under 18 years of age’. In total there are eight references to young people in the plan covering areas such as demand reduction, prevention of drug use and drug-related crime. This thematic paper identifies the legal activity undertaken by the EU Member States between 1999 and 2004 and how it might be attributed to, or have been made in the spirit of, references to young people in the plan.

Overall, a total of 22 laws, passed by 11 Member States during the period in question, were found to address issues named in the plan that related to young people. No less than 10 countries passed legislation providing alternatives to prison, especially for young drug offenders, although five of these laws focused primarily on adults. Six Member States passed laws aiming to reduce the prevalence of drug use among young people. 

The study notes that, despite several issues relating to young people in the plan, comparatively little legislative attention appeared to be given to them by the end of the period in question, although numerous non-legislative actions (e.g. educational or training programmes) may have been undertaken.

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