The Czech cabinet Monday approved a Justice Ministry proposal  that sets personal use quantity limits for illicit drugs under a penal code revision that decriminalizes drug possession in the Czech Republic. The law and its quantity limits will take effect on January 1.
The Czech government had approved the decriminalization law late last year, but failed to set precise quantities covered by it, instead leaving it to police and prosecutors to determine what constituted a "larger than small" amount of drugs. The resulting confusion -- and the prosecution of some small-scale marijuana growers as drug traffickers -- led the government to adopt more precise criteria.
Under the new law, possession of less than the following amounts of illicit drugs will not be a criminal offense:
Marijuana15 grams (or five plants)
Magic mushrooms40 pieces
Possession of "larger than a small amount" of marijuana can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. For other illicit drugs, the sentence is two years. Trafficking offenses carry stiffer sentences.
Justice Minister Daniela Kovarova said that the ministry had originally proposed decriminalizing the possession of up to two grams of hard drugs, but decided that limits being imposed by courts this year were appropriate. "The government finally decided that it would stick to the current court practice and drafted a table based on these limits," Kovarova said.
The Czech Republic now joins Portugal as a European country that has decriminalized drug possession. Drug possession is also decriminalized de facto if not de jure in the Netherlands, and actual charging and prosecution practices in some other European countries already approach decriminalization in practice, if not as a matter of law.