Plans to decriminalize possession of drugs
The Cabinet of Ministers has adopted a new State Strategy on Drugs up till 2020. The strategy envisages increasing criminal liability for distribution of drugs in large quantities but having only administrative penalties for possession of small amounts. The idea is of course to focus on fighting large-scale drug trafficking, however supporters of liberalization believe the strategy does not go far enough.
The strategy envisages decriminalizing particular articles of the Criminal Code on fighting distribution of drugs. At present Article 309 allows punishment of up to 3 years imprisonment for production; purchase; possession; or transport of narcotic substances without the intention to sell them. The plan would be to increase criminal liability for distribution and sale of large amounts of drugs, but to introduce administrative liability for possession of up to 10 doses.
The strategy does not specify the degree to which liability will be increased.
According to the Interior Ministry, last year 29 thousand criminal cases were initiated specifically under Article 309, with this being 53% of all drugs-related offences. In the first half of this year the figure was 11.4 thousand.
The Health Ministry reports that as of 2013 there are 387 thousand injecting drug users. There has been an increase in drug users. In 2001 there were 21 drug users per 10 thousand; in 2013 – 33.
The strategy envisages increasing the amount of social advertising in the Internet and media, as well as educational programmes. It also includes plans to draw up procedure for testing drivers; detainees; people working on critically important sites.
Civic organizations approve the plans set out in the strategy to increase the number of pharmacies selling medicines with narcotic substances. At present the number of pharmacies able to provide medication for cancer patients or people needing palliative care is very small. The main reason for this is the whole barrage of stringent requirements. What this means is that patients may have to travel huge distances to get medication they urgently need due to conditions which make such difficulties especially inappropriate.
From a report at Kommersant Ukraine