Polish drug law reform goes forward

11 April 2011

In early April, the Polish parliament amended Poland's drug law. The debate was heated and speeches were, at times, dramatic. 258 MPs voted in favour of amending the law, 159 were against, and 6 refrained. The amendment project was drawn up by a team of experts in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice. After three years of work, common sense and public health finally prevailed.

The bill was then adopted by the Senate on 28th April. 52 senators voted for the law reform, 35 senators were against it and 2 senatros abstained form voting. At present, the Act should be signed by the President to come into force.

Under the new law, public prosecutors will be able to refrain from prosecuting a person for the possession of psychoactive or psychotropic substances if the individual possesses only a small amount of an illegal drug for personal use and has been arrested for the first time. At the same time, the maximum penalty for possessing a large amount of drugs was raised. Despite attempts by the Social Liberal Democrats (SLD), upper and lower limits were not defined or written into the bill.

To date, Poland has had one of the most punitive drug policies in Europe. The possession of any amount of illicit substances can result in a three-year prison sentence. While this is only a small change, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction.

"The amended Act is a good solution" – declared Marta Gaszyńska, Head of Polish Network of Drug Policy – "I know it perfectly well as I was addicted to heroin for many years. Fortunately, the period when I was taking drugs was when we had much more liberal regulations. Thanks to that I am alive, I was able to undergo the treatment and as other people I can realise myself in family and professional life."

For more information, please contact the Agnieszka from the Polish Drug Policy Network: a.sieniawska@o2.p.