No more jail terms for drug possession

Russia gots it

Author: Moscow Times
Date: May 22, 2004
Views: 3472


Under a new law that came into effect this week, drug users can
possess a greatly increased amount of an illegal substance -- for
instance, 20 grams of marijuana or 1.5 grams of cocaine -- without
the risk of being thrown in jail.

The law has been criticized by the Federal Anti-Drug Service, which
says it hampers the battle against drugs, but praised by those who
work to rehabilitate drug addicts, who predict more addicts will now
seek help.


Anyone caught in possession of these amounts or less cannot legally
be detained, a spokeswoman for the Moscow branch of the Federal
Anti-Drug Service said. Instead, a report will be filed and the fine
will be determined by a court.

This is a major change. Under the old standards, someone caught with
0.1 grams of marijuana, for instance, could be punished by

Foreigners, even those with deep pockets, should still take the new
law seriously, however. Yelena Zhigayeva, a lawyer at the Moscow law
firm Haarmann Hemmelrath & Partner, said that by law foreigners who
violate Russian drug laws, even if it is only an administrative
infraction, can be expelled from the country or denied re-entry.


Lev Levinson, head of New Drug Policy, an advocacy group for drug
law reform, was the coordinator of the group. \"This is a brave,
humane law,\" Levinson said. \"Now that police will stop persecuting
users, they can start focusing on real threats like large-scale drug

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