Impact of Law Enforcement-Focused National Drug Policies in Russia

"The drug enforcement agencies are supported in their functions by strong drug control laws and high-level Governmental attention. While recent years have seen some increase in the resources devoted to the prevention of drug abuse and to the care for drug users, the major emphasis in the Government's policy is clearly targeted on addressing the problem of drug trafficking and production.
"Some outside observers believe that this heavy emphasis on law enforcement sometimes hampers efforts to address the problems of drug abuse, particularly among the youth. For one thing, there is some evidence that many drug users are sent to prison for drug trafficking, although they are arrested with small quantities of drugs in their possession. Since 1997, with the introduction of a new Criminal Code, the possession of a "small amount of narcotics" is not considered a criminal offence, but an administrative infraction. However, the definitions of what constitutes a "small amount" of the various drugs are established at extremely low levels. In the case of heroin, there is no quantity that can be considered a "small amount" and, thus, the possession of any quantity of that drug can be prosecuted as drug trafficking. This phenomenon, coupled with the fact that there are no juvenile courts in Russia, has resulted in the incarceration of many young drug users in adult prisons where there are few, if any, drug treatment programmes, and where they may be exposed to risks of violence, and of infection with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS."

Source: 

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, "County Profile: Russian Federation" (Moscow, Russia: UNODC Regional Office, Russian Federation, 2003) p. 33.

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