This movie was produced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) in cooperation with the Polish Drug Policy Network, our partner in the European Drug Policy Initiative (EDPI), in order to promote the case of decriminalization in Poland.
To turn on English or Polish subtitles, after you start the video, scroll over the triangle and then click the cc button at the bottom of the video window.
In the year 2000, Poland amended its criminal legislation on drug possession. As a result, any person possessing even the smallest amount of an illegal substance was liable to be prosecuted. There were two assumptions behind this amendment: first, it is more difficult to catch the dealers if they can carry small amounts of drugs on them; second, if you cannot catch the small retail users and dealers, it is impossible to arrest the big bosses of drug trafficking gangs.
Since the amendment in 2000, the number of drug-related offences has been increasing steadily. In 2006 there were more than 70,000 drug-related criminal offences reported, and most of them were instances of personal possession. There has also been an upward trend in the amount of illicit drugs seized by the police. The enforcement of Art. 62 of the drug law (the article criminalizing drug users) costs tax payers an estimated 80 million PLN (20 million EUR) every year as well as an estimated 1.5 million working hours for law enforcement officials each year.
However, the stringent punitive measures of Art. 62 have not yeilded the positive results that were expected. The size of the illicit drug market has not been reduced over the past ten years, and drugs are more available now than they ever were in Poland. There is also a severe unintended consequence: tens of thousands of young people have been sentenced to prison, and many of them have actually been incarcerated – resulting in broken careers, families and lives.
In April 2011, the Polish Parliament (Sejm) amended the drug law in order to give discretion to prosecutors in deciding whether to prosecute small scale drug offenders. This was a very small step forward, and we could hardly call it decriminalization, but the bill is facing fierce opposition from Conservative MPs who claimed this law will “legalize drugs" and send the wrong message to young people. Now it is up to the Senate, the upper champer of the Polish legislation, to approve the reform bill and send it to the president for his signature. The Polish Drug Policy Network sent the DVD-version of this movie as part of a comprehensive package to all members of the Senate. We hope we can contribute to the better understanding of the problem.
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Posted by Peter Sarosi
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