Limit values for psychoactive substances are still undefined
The amended Drug Abuse Prevention Act has introduced art. 62a. It enables the prosecution service and courts to discontinue criminal proceedings against perpetrators in possession of small amounts of intoxicants or psychoactive drugs for their personal use. “The problem is how to interpret these ‘small amounts’”, says Piotr Kubaszewski, an HFHR lawyer.
The criteria which must be met to discontinue drug possession proceedings are subject to individual interpretation and are not specified whatsoever. In the justification to the amendment it is observed that law-enforcement authorities (prosecution service, most of all) may rely on internal guidelines setting forth relevant limit values. As the amendment’s sponsor noted, this practice of solving the problem is used in many European countries.
“It is only after the Prosecutor General develops proper limit values that the amendment process will be brought to an end and it will be possible to discontinue small drug possession cases at the earliest possible stage of proceedings”, explains Piotr Kubaszewski.
The need to determine limit values for individual psychoactive substances and hence define the notion of “small amounts” by the Prosecutor General is the main recommendation of the HFHR’s report “The Amendment to the Drug Abuse Prevention Act three years after its entry into force – report on the practical application”.
This year in April this problem was brought to the attention of the Prosecutor General by Deputy Speaker of the Sejm Jerzy Wenderlich, who noted interpretative problems posed by the wording of art. 62a. Deputy Speaker of the Sejm shared the voices calling for a more detailed specification of limit values defining the notion of small amounts of drugs, which has already been done by many EU states.
“The issue of specifying the wording of art. 62a of the Drug Abuse Prevention Act has not been raised in the Report of the Prosecutor General on the annual operations of the prosecution service in 2014 published on the PG’s website”, observes Mr Kubaszewski. “The Prosecutor General has only advised the Minister of Justice of the need to amend art. 55 and art. 56 of the Act”, concluded the lawyer.