Prague’s liberal laws and liberal policies mean that the city has earned a reputation of being pot-friendly, and it is estimated that nearly half million marijuana users are largely ignored by the authorities and tolerated by almost everyone. Most pubs and non-tourist bars outside of the centre allow you to smoke inside. But don’t try lighting some skunk at a dance club! Drug possession is illegal in the Czech Republic, and on January 1, 2010, the government set out the possession limits for a misdemeanour offence and a criminal offence.
What are those all-important amounts?
As reported in other sources, it is a misdemeanour offence to possess drugs up to the following quantities: (to clarify, if you have less than the amount listed, it is still illegal, but is not a criminal offence – just an infraction).
Here is what you can have ‘legally’ in your possession in the Czech Republic
Five plants of hemp or 15.0 grams of marijuana, 40 pieces of magic mushrooms, 5.0 grams of hashish, five LCD-laced papers or other materials with LSD, 1.5 grams of heroin, 1.0 gram of cocaine, and 2.0 grams of methamphetamine.
These limits have nothing to do with any of the substances being legalised. As a misdemeanour offence, drug possession up to the amounts mentioned above can carry a fine of up to 15,000 CZK. However, since it is a misdemeanour, someone charged with this type of possession will not have their name on a criminal record.
The question of whether this is liberal will depend on the enforcement by police. Generally, the Czech Republic has quite a liberal reputation as far as marijuana use goes. Personal observation and anecdotal evidence suggest that the use of marijuana is more open compared to other European countries. However, criminal possession of drugs can involve imprisonment of up to two years.
For many, the flip-side to more permissive drug laws is adequate secondary and tertiary prevention; that is, prevention for people who already use. Throughout the Czech Republic, there is a large network of these services: mostly non-governmental, outpatient consulting and treatment, residential follow-up care, substitution programmes, street work, etc. Languages spoken in the various institutions will vary, though most often there is English. One such organisation is Drop In Prague (www.dropin.cz), which offers programmes, counselling, needle exchange, foodstuffs, HIV and hepatitis tests, substitution programmes, administering methadone in the form of Subutex, a centre for follow-up care, a centre for families, and a street work programme.
The New Court-established Term “More than a Small Amount of Drugs” (April 2014)
What does it mean – more than a small amount of drugs? The Supreme Court answered this question on Wednesday, when in a unifying opinion it specified the exact numbers according to which the judiciary and the police shall proceed. In contrast to the current practice, the judges chose stricter limits for marijuana and methamphetamine. They justified the decision by the increasing number of users and the development of mass production.
Numbers were recently modified by the government regulation, but they were canceled by the Constitutional Court. The Supreme Court press agent, Petr Knötig, pointed out that the figures are only indicative and it is always necessary to take into account other circumstances of the case.
“For ‘more than a small amount’ it is generally considered to be a quantity of a narcotic or psychotropic substance or poison kept that, multiplied by the harmful effects of individual substances to human life and health, exceeds the usual dose of an ordinary consumer. In conclusion […] it should be taken into account of the alternative, whether it was a first-time user, or the user of these substances is in an advanced stage of addiction; and possibly other factors affecting the level of threat to the life or health of users,” said judges of the Criminal Division.
The Increase in the Number of Plantations is Alarming
For example, for meth, ‘more than a small amount’ is now, by the unifying opinion of the Supreme Court, the amount of 1.5 grams of the drug, as is also the case for heroin. For cocaine, the amount is determined as more than one gram. For marijuana this amount was determined by judges to be 10g of dry weight.
It is a stricter standard than the earlier government regulation. The number of juvenile users and bulk plantations is growing.
“Primarily the Vietnamese ethnic minority is involved in this criminal activity. The increase in the number of detected plantations and the quality of marijuana produced since 2007 is strictly alarming,” wrote the judges.
The term “more than a small amount” appears in several articles of the Criminal Code. The criminalization of users in possession of the various drugs depends on the interpretation of this term.