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Drug limits

January 7, 2010

Just how much is 'a small amount' of cocaine? Czech authorities have reached a consensus - and the answer is probably more than you think!

New Czech guidelines allow possession of up to 1.5 grams of heroinImage: picture-alliance / dpa

Move over, Amsterdam! The Czech Republic has usurped the Netherlands as the European country with the most lenient drug laws.

On December 14, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer's government approved new standardized limits to clarify the acceptable levels for personal drug use. Under the new law, which took effect January 1, a person may possess up to four tablets of ecstasy, 15 grams of marijuana, 1.5 grams of heroin, or one gram of cocaine, without facing criminal charges.

Czech authorities have been quick to point out that the recently introduced limits do not constitute a change in the law, but rather serve as a clearer definition for law enforcement officials. Police previously relied on the ambiguous term "a small amount" as the dividing line between misdemeanor and felony prosecution.

Under the new law, a person possessing less than the specified amount may still be charged with a misdemeanor - meaning he can be fined, but not jailed, for the offense.

The new levels are by far the most liberal in Europe. The quantities of heroin and marijuana permitted represent nearly three times the amounts allowed under Dutch law, while in neighboring Hungary, drug possession in any amount is potentially punishable by prison sentence.


Editor: Susan Houlton