Marijuana Use Should Now Be Only a Misdemeanour

The Ministry of Justice is now penning out alternative punishments to recreational marijuana users, planning to modify penalties for possession so that it is no longer classed as a criminal offence.

Cannabis Sativa (c) Psychonaught

The plan was announced by PM Robert Fico shortly after his landslide victory in the March 2012 elections and in the wake of demands from the Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) for something to be changed in this area. At the time Fico said “Young people risk three-year sentences, five-year sentences. Everyone is getting stoned anyway, smoking marijuana, so what good does it do?”

According to TASR newswire, Fico’s Smer-SD party government claims that it did not get its inspiration from the SaS proposals. So far no specific draft revision to the Penal Code has been brought forward, but the Ministry has confirmed that the changes will include more lenient punishments and the reclassification of possession to a misdemeanour instead of a criminal offence. The changes will not decriminalise marijuana use, but with alternative punishments like community service, young people caught with the illegal substance will no longer get a criminal record and be classed as criminals.

Many countries in Europe close one eye to the issue of recreational use, while neighbouring Austria can still impose prison sentences for possession (which includes the act of smoking) of up to 1 year (option of alternative therapy and subsequent waiving of sentence). In the Czech Republic you can posses up to fifteen grams for personal use or cultivate up to five plants, which is classed merely as a misdemeanor, while selling it is illegal.

There is no distinction in Hungarian law between illicit drugs according to dangers, which means heroin use has the same consequences as cannabis use. However the Penal Code distinguishes punishments for sale and personal use, stating that “One cannot be punished for drug misuse; if a small, personal amount is produced, acquired, or in possession…” provided the perpetrator has undergone 6 months of therapy. Possession of larger amounts can lead to a 5-10 year prison sentence.

On 26 May 2011, Poland introduced legislation to terminate the prosecution for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. The law introduces the possibility when a person has negligible amounts of drugs for personal use and is not a dealer, while it is essentially still illegal. Ukraine has similar laws to Slovakia at present, with users facing the threat of 3 years in prison for possession, regardless of amount.


  1. Andrew has outlined the current, socially irresponsible, levels of alcohol production and consumption and we are reminded every news programme of the consequencies. Relaxing the drugs policy because “everyone is doing it” is a receipe for disaster. I, like many other people, don’t do drugs or drink to excess so why should I have to pay ever increasing insurance premiums to provide treatment for those who do? I agree with the reduction in the class of the offence, youngsters should not get a criminal record for use or possession but the idea that the fine line between personal use and intent to supply can be drawn and enforced is a non starter. The police seem incapable of detecting serious crime so checking what “house plants” you have is just not going to happen.

  2. I don’t know that anyone in my east Slovak village does marijuana, but then they distill so much slivovica, etc. that there’s no need!

    Anyway, there are already online stores in Slovakia selling canabis seeds “for collectors” so I guess the attitude of law enforcement must be already lax. In any event, if people are stoned or drunk is there really much of a difference?

  3. Wow, everyone is doing it??? I don’t, my wife doesn’t, my firends don’t, so I suppose they are not Slovaks!
    I don’t think it should be a criminal offense, but to put everyone in the “Stoned” category is offensive and plain stupid.
    Sure, laws are set to keep order, but for WHO? When Slovakia wakes up and realizes that they are not the center of the world, then they can start to see normality in society!
    Fico = “Stupid is as Stupid does” (quoted from Forest Gump)

  4. Ah! everybody is doing it so its OK ! how typically Slovak! Explains why bribery, corruption, till dipping, fraud, con-tricks and theft are so easily tolerated.
    A news report has suggested that the changes to the drink driving laws have had little effect so does that mean we go back to the good old days of driving while legless?
    I get this feeling that, in Slovakia, if anything is difficult to do someone will knit an excuse for not doing it.

  5. So it is Official , and from the head huncho, et horses mouth …“Young people risk three-year sentences, five-year sentences. Everyone ( Slovaks) is getting stoned anyway, smoking marijuana, so what good does it do?”

    That glazed look you get when always speak to Slovak is because he is numb drunk, IQ dumb, or plain stoned ….

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