Ten years after introducing one of Europe's most draconian drug laws, the Polish Parliament has voted to amend it, in an effort to draw a greater distinction between drug user and drug dealer.
Public prosecutors will be able to avoid bringing people to court on possession charges if the quantity is small and it is a first-time drug offense. Prosecutors will also be expected to determine whether the person is drug dependent. At the same time, the maximum penalty for possessing a large quantity of illicit drugs will be raised from 10 to 12 years. MPs in favor of the amendments totaled 258, with 159 against and 6 refraining.
This is a huge success for civil society groups that have been campaigning to reform Poland's drug law. To date, a person can be sent to prison for up to three years for possessing any amount of an illicit drug. The amendment project, drawn up by a team of experts appointed by the former Minister of Justice, had been waiting for over two years to be debated in Parliament.
The bill has been passed through the Senate, and now awaits to be ratified by the president.
As such, The Polish Drug Policy Network is encouraging you to send a letter to the President of the Republic of Poland and urge him to sign the bill. You will find an English version of the sample letter here.
To learn more about the bill, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, in cooperation with the Polish Drug Policy Network, has produced a film to support drug policy reform in Poland. Click to watch the film.
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