Drug supply penalties: vary by drug and country

Unauthorised drug supply is a crime in all European countries, but the penalties written in the law vary widely. A recent EMCDDA survey of the opinions of legal practitioners in EU Member States found that the penalties expected by these experts for similar drug trafficking offences varied considerably between countries. These variations may be a result of national historical and cultural factors influencing a country’s criminal law systems, as well as different national views on the effectiveness of sentencing as a deterrent. The study also revealed that, although the legislation may contain similar penalties for different substances, in most countries the practitioners predicted that penalties would vary by substance. This would imply that judges take into account aspects such as perceived harm to society caused by the different drugs.

Expected prison sentence for supply of 1 kilogram of heroin or cannabis in EU Member States


Median expected sentences based on opinions of samples of legal practitioners in each country; for cases of first offenders, with no organised crime involvement. Where suspension of sentence was considered possible, median sentence is not presented.