Making a Hash of the Drug Laws in Slovakia

Repeat offenders

When a person is caught with marijuana for the first time, they face up to three years in prison if it is for their own personal use. The judge can, in this case, decide to impose a suspended sentence or impose a fine or community service.

The punishment also depends on the amount of the marijuana seized. The police determine how much an individual dose from the seized amount would sell for. If the sum exceeds 2,660 euros, the punishment is higher, up to five years in prison. A person who produces, imports, exports, purchases or sells marijuana can face a jail term of three to ten years.

Prison time increases significantly when a person is caught with marijuana repeatedly. In that case, courts can impose a jail term of 10 to 15 years.

By comparison, Juraj Hossu, who was convicted of the manslaughter of Filipino Henry Acorda in downtown Bratislava in 2018, is serving a sentence of nine years for his crime.

Slovak legislation does not distinguish between marijuana and other illegal drugs – hard and soft. And for repeat offences, the law does not distinguish between user and dealer.

Analysis by the Justice Ministry’s research arm reveals that between 2018 and 2020, Slovak courts imposed a suspended sentence most often for illegal possession of marijuana, in 56.7 per cent of cases. Another 8.4 per cent of cases ended with imprisonment. The courts also imposed fines in 15.8 per cent of cases and property forfeiture in 8.1 per cent of cases. Only 1 per cent out of 892 people charged were acquitted.

“The median length of unconditional imprisonment was 10.5 months during the three years examined. The most common sentence of compulsory labour was 100 hours. The average value of the fine reached 625 euros,” the report said.

The largest group of accused were those under 25 years of age (44.3 per cent), with those aged 36-50 accounting for 38.6 per cent, those aged 51-60 at 11.5 per cent and those aged over 60 at 1 per cent. Men made up 95.7 per cent of the accused.

The Justice Ministry research found that Slovak legislation is among the strictest in the EU from the point of view of length of penalties for illegal drug activities.

“The current system leads to the criminalisation of drug users and does not sufficiently address the causes that lead to use. Nor does it reflect the primary objective of seeking to prioritise the punishment of drug trafficking over the punishment of drug users,” the analysis said.

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