As of January 1st, the Czech Republic’s drug policy is changing. While the personal use of illicit drugs was decriminalized a year ago, possession of the vague “larger than small" amount of a substance still lead to prosecution. The difficulty the public, police and courts faced in judging this amount has lead to government clarifying the levels acceptable for personal consumption, such as 15 grams of Marijuana, 4 tablets of ecstasy, a gram of cocaine and 1.5 grams of heroin. Setting out the law in a clear way and using common sense to designate a ‘reasonable’ level of drug possession makes it easier for all to monitor and respect the law.
While any move from the outright prohibition of drugs is positive, Czech reform is half-baked. The possession of drugs (apart from small amounts of certain drugs) remains a crime; this will ensure that drugs will continue to be procured, trafficked and traded illegally, and often by large organized gangs. The total ‘cost’ of drugs is thus likely to remain high. The new reform does allow the Czechs to own a small number of their own cannabis plants, which is a positive step in allowing the controlled production of illicit drugs to take place. However, such tolerance must be applied to the whole of the drugs market.
The fact remains that to minimize the damage of drugs they must be dealt with maturely and logically. If they were to be legalized and subsequently regulated in a method similar to tobacco or alcohol, the source and quality of substances would be better regulated. Drug use would become safer, the scale of drug use could become better monitored and those needing help may be more likely to ask for it. Personal liberty would also be increased, which is no bad thing. The moves in Latin America, Portugal and the Czech Republic to adopt a more sensible drugs approach should be encouraged. Perhaps in time our own leaders may learn that you cannot legislate a problem away.