This thematic paper, contributing to the European Commission's evaluation of the EU Action Plan 2000-2004, looks at the extent to which legislative attention was paid in the period to actions considered by Member States to be of high priority at the outset of the strategy and action plan. Over 250 legal texts were analysed and compared with actions specified in the plan. A considerable number of legal changes in this period were attributed to the action ‘to develop outreach work and treatment for users’ and there was a clear acknowledgement of the need for a stable legal basis for substitution treatment, following its general formalisation EU-wide in the 1990s. A further trend noted was the reduction of prosecution or maximum sentences for drug users, as Member States aim to resolve cases through alternatives such as treatment rather than via the criminal justice system. A number of countries increased criminal punishment for driving following consumption of illegal drugs.