Heightened Arrest Risk for Casual Drug Use in Russia
"This was a couple of years after Russia had toughened its drug laws, lowering the minimum punishable dose to such a level that virtually any user could land behind bars. By 2004, the Justice Ministry estimated that 300,000 people were serving drug-related sentences in Russian prisons.
"That year the government -- responding in part to pressure from the Justice Ministry, which was fighting prison overpopulation -- raised the minimum punishable doses of illegal drugs, essentially ensuring that users who had no intent to sell would not be arrested. The police were incensed, arguing that some dealers took to carrying amounts just below the punishable level -- but still sufficient to satisfy between one and nine users. In other words, the police complained, they were being prevented from arresting users and small-time dealers and forced to focus on real drug dealers, whom they didn't want to touch with a 10-foot pole.
"The more-liberal policy lasted less than two years. The minimum punishable dose has been lowered again -- in most cases, by more than 50 percent. The dose is not quite as low as pre-2004 levels, but still low enough to put even casual users at risk."
Gessen, Masha, "Anti-Drug Laws for Drug Dealers," Moscow Times, February 16, 2006.