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  1. chillinwill
    Czech Rules On Narcotics Possession Designed To Aid Law Enforcement

    Long known for a liberal policy on drugs, the Czech Republic is now officially quantifying its status as one of European Union's most lenient member states when it comes to decriminalizing drug possession. But these new guidelines come among signs that the rest of Czech drug policy is not keeping pace with other EU members and contradicts law enforcement tactics being utilized to tackle alcohol abuse.

    On Dec. 14, Prime Minister Jan Fischer's government approved new standardized limits, delineating criminal and misdemeanor drug offenses. Starting Jan. 1, the new numbers will allow a person to possess, for example, up to 15 grams of marijuana or 1.5 grams of heroin without facing criminal charges. Anybody possessing less than these amounts is eligible to be charged for a misdemeanor, but may also receive little more than a warning from police.

    "It is a step in a right direction," said Michal Hammer, spokesman for the National Drug Squad ( NPC ). "To put it simply, for exceeding these amounts of narcotics possession, one can be prosecuted in FrA=dek Mistek as well as in Ostrava."

    Authorities are quick to point out that these levels represent not a change in law, but rather a clearer definition for law enforcement, which has previously used the ambiguous term "a small amount" as the dividing line between misdemeanor and felony prosecution. In the Czech Republic, 87 percent of successful prosecutions are tied to cases involving drug sales or production, and only 13 percent are related to possession, according to the NPC.

    New Guidelines

    Starting in 2010, possessing the following amounts of drugs is no longer a criminal offense.

    Marijuana 15 grams or less

    Heroin 1.5 grams or less

    Cocaine 1 gram or less

    Methamphetamine 2 grams or less

    Hallucinogenic mushrooms 40 pieces or less

    LSD 5 tablets or less

    Lagging in policy

    The Czech Republic may be among the most liberal EU member states when it comes to decriminalizing drug possession, but policy on prevention and treatment lags behind others with similar regulations

    Total Anti-Drug Expenditure

    Czech Republic 22.7 million euros

    The Netherlands 2.2 billion euros

    Treatment, counseling, medical expenditure

    Czech Republic 9.4 million euros

    The Netherlands 550 million euros

    Czech authorities insist their new guidelines fall in step with European norms, but they are in fact much more liberal than policies in most neighboring countries. According to the European Legal Database on Drugs ( ELDD ), Slovakia defines criminal drug possession as having more than three times a single dose of any substance, putting the Czech regulation of marijuana some 15 times over that threshold. In Hungary, anyone possessing any amount of drugs is eligible for a five-year prison sentence. Those defined as addicts are punished less severely but are still eligible for a one-year prison term for possessing any drugs.

    The Czech philosophy on drug policy may in fact make the country the most liberal of all EU member states. Even the Netherlands, long known as a bastion of liberal drug policies, including businesses licensed to sell marijuana, draws a sharper legal distinction between hard and soft drugs. The Dutch also limit decriminalized possession of marijuana to 5 grams ( one-third of the Czech amount ) and any hard drugs to 0.5 grams ( one-third of the Czech amount for heroin ).

    The logic behind decriminalizing drug possession is to treat drug addiction as a public health problem rather than a criminal one.

    "If a person possess drugs for their own use, or is a drug addict and needs his daily dose, the prosecution of such a person does not solve the drug-abuse problem as a whole," Hammer said.

    A shift in policy toward decriminalization is usually accompanied by a shift in resources from law enforcement and courts to drug treatment and counseling, and it is in this area, as well as in the overall resources dedicated to fighting drugs, that the Czech Republic lags far behind its European counterparts with liberalized drug policies.

    In 2008, the Czech Republic spent a total of 597.3 million KA on anti-drug policy with about two-thirds of that money coming from the national government. About 247 million KA of the total was spent on prevention, addiction treatment and medical care.

    The Netherlands spent 2.2 billion euros last year on drug policy, with 25 percent ( 550 million euros ) spent on treatment, prevention and medical care.

    While the Netherlands has about three times as many residents as the Czech Republic, a comparison between the two finds that the Dutch spend more than 30 times more money per resident on anti-drug policy ( 73 euros per person per year in the Netherlands versus 2.2 euros per person per year in the Czech Republic ) and 20 times more per person per year on drug treatment and counseling ( 18 euros per person per year in the Netherlands versus less than 1 euro per person per year in the Czech Republic ).

    The loose Czech policy on drug possession does not match the philosophy being utilized to combat other substance abuse problems either, raising questions about whether the government is attacking addiction with a coherent policy.

    On Dec. 15, the Czech Traffic Police announced they would begin using breathalyzer tests during every traffic stop to combat what they say was a doubling of people driving under the influence compared with last year. The Czech Republic is the only country in Europe test for alcohol on every traffic stop.

    "The change in practice only applies to alcohol," said Veronika BenediktovA!, a police spokeswoman. "The screening test to detect that a driver is under the influence of drugs will only be applied in cases where the police have suspicions of drug use."

    The new clarification of the drug-possession law is being praised by most experts as a positive step to giving police officers clear, uniform guidelines, but government offices either proved unable or unwilling to provide answers to follow-up questions related to the policy. The Health Ministry declined to provide information about how much is budgeted each year for drug treatment. The Justice Ministry was equally tight lipped, though it did say the policy is scheduled for a review in early 2011.

    Even amid signs that the rest of Czech drug policy is not in-step with liberal possession laws, most drug counseling professionals see the emphasis on drugs as a public health problem as a good thing. But, with 44 percent of Czechs between 15 and 24 years old reporting they have used cannabis, and 29 percent of the same group using the drug in the past year - the highest rates in the EU - some remain skeptical whether the policy will make much of a dent.

    "It looks more as if it will not have any effect on the drug situation," said Ivan Douda, a psychologist and co-founder of Drop In, an NGO focused on treating drug problems. "Drug consumers and dealers will most likely adjust."

    And, with new laws decriminalizing marijuana in amounts with a street value of between 3,000 and 4,000 KA, Douda has another suggestion.

    "It would be better to take into account the purpose of drug - possession or production - rather than just the amounts," he said.

    Walter Novak
    December 24, 2009
    Prague Post
    http://www.praguepost.com/news/3194-new-drug-guidelines-are-europes-most-liberal.html

Comments

  1. CoryInJapan
    althought I think limiting these what they call small amounts as a non criminal offense is good and all but seriously.

    Lets take Cannabis for one expample.
    I know most adult smokers who work and honest living and smoking weed is pretty much the only law they break buy more than half and ounce at a time.
    Most regular smokers swim knows people can pick up to an ounce or more with the intent of it being for only personal use.Say someone who is using it for medacine needs an ounce and a half a month. They get cuaght on pick up day and its over the decrim limit then they get strapped with a felony charge.The lines of these laws are to thin.I can still see manny people who have a litte more than this decrim limit abd getting seriously busted and was a non violent drug user.Which we all agree is no criminal.


    now thats pretty decent compared to here in the US..Could go to prison just for a couple tabs of LSD.

    still I dont like these limit numbers as they are always to small in my opinion.



    What I think would be better is say 100grams of cannabis and if its over 100 grams but there is no signs of selling(no baggys,scales,stacks of cash,etc) then they could get off with a fine instead and have no felony charges applied.

    Now in my world the cannabis would be legal and so would LSD and mushrooms dmt etc and what not but this isnt so that was what I thought would be a good realistic idea that sounds possible..but even my idea is a little fantasy.
  2. jkolt89
    Czech Government Announces Decriminalization Quantities on all Drugs

    This law is in effect since 1/1/2010. Finally, another country that's getting it right! Ok, who else is moving? :)

    Europe: Czech Government Announces Decriminalization Quantities -- Law Goes Into Effect New Year's Day

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Czech Decrimalises All Drugs

    Reported by News Editor

    The Czech Republic followed Portugal to become the second European country to formally decriminalise drug possession this week, announcing specific quantities beneath which users will not be prosecuted.

    Under the new laws (which come into force on January 1) Czech people will be allowed to possess up to 4 ecstasy tablets. 15 grams (half an ounce) of marijuana, 5 grams of hash and 1 gram of cocaine with prison sentences still a potential threat for those in possession of more.

    Legendary Czech club promoter Ales Bleha told Skrufff he’s delighted about the new laws though said he expects them to have minimal impact on people in Czech.

    “Few people have any problems with drugs here already, unless they deliberately provoke the police or do stupid things and people who already smoke marijuana or use hard drugs will do so the same as before,” he predicted. “The Czech Republic is already sometimes called the 2nd Amsterdam or ‘Amsterdam of the East’.

    “But what’s really important about these new laws is that they represent genuine decriminalization which is an important next step towards full legalization which I believe is the only possible solution for dealing with drugs and reducing the damage associated with them. I don’t consider drug users as a problem, the problems come from the criminals and mafias involved in selling them,” he said.

    “I think the quantities they’ve set are OK too,” Ales continued. “At least speaking from my own personal experience, I only smoke marijuana so I can’t really speak about the other drugs but I’d certainly never have more than five grams on me.”

    “I’d also like to thank the many people who never give up this fight and worked hard to explain to the government that it’s better to control the drug problem rather than to rely on repression.”

    “I hope that drugs will be legalized in the whole Europe within the next decade or two,” he added, “It is the best way how to take this problem under control because as I already said – the real problem is that presented by drug dealers and drug mafia, not about users. And when drugs are forbidden prices go up and they become more attractive for young people.”
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Czech Government Announces Decriminalization Quantities on all Drugs

    this story was previously posted here
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