Impact Analysis Project of New Drugs Legislation
Summary Final Report
Office of the Czech Government
The first major post-communist reform of Czech drug laws was completed as early as 1990. Among other legislative changes that were seen as returns to democratic and humanistic values, capital punishment and punishment for simple possession of illegal drugs were abolished. However, in 1997 a proposal was submitted to the Czech parliament that would re-introduce criminal penalties for drug users for possession of any amount of illegal drugs. The government subsequently submitted its own more modest proposal introducing criminalization of possession, but only for amounts that were "bigger than small", which was approved by parliament in April 1998.
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The law was subsequently vetoed by Vaclav Havel, then president of the Czech Republic. Then, the parliament overturned the president's veto and the amended law went into effect on January 1, 1999. Following these turbulent events, the National Drug Commission proposed that the government evaluate the impact of the new amendments by means of funding a scientific study.
The researchers were asked to address five hypotheses that the Czech government wanted to have tested. The hypotheses were: "After the introduction of the penalty for possession of illegal drugs, (1) availability of illegal drugs will decrease; (2) number of (prevalence of) current drug users will decrease; or at least (3) the incidence of new users will decrease; (4) there will be no increase in the negative health consequences related to illegal drugs; and (5) social costs will not increase."
The study, "An Impact Analysis Project of the New Drug Legislation in the Czech Republic" (October 2001), concluded that the implementation of a penalty for possession of illicit drugs for personal use did not meet any of the tested objectives and was loss-making from an economic point of view.