Plan to Revisit Drugs Policy Shelved

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Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 21 (TASR) – A plan to revisit Slovakia’s drugs policy has been postponed, as Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most-Hid) withdrew her motion to decriminalise the use of so-called hard drugs from Wednesday’s Government session after encountering disapproval from the coalition partners, TASR learnt on the same day.

The disagreement on the issue was discussed by the Coalition Council before the Government session, with junior coalition partner the Slovak National Party (SNS) announcing as early as on Tuesday (February 20) that its ministers wouldn’t lend their support to materials aimed at making possession of negligible amounts of even hard drugs a misdemeanour. The same objection was raised by ministers representing Smer-SD.

“Being aware that the materials don’t enjoy the support of the coalition partners, it didn’t make any sense to talk about this. After some time passes, we’ll need to come up with an amended proposal and vie for support again,” declared Zitnanska after the Government session. She promised that she’ll attempt to take the reservations of the coalition partners into account and draft a variant that would only decriminalise the possession of marijuana.

Zitnanska added that she was saddened to learn of the objections only days before the Government session, when none had previously appeared during a long legislative process spanning years. She’s also uncomfortable with the fact that a goal anchored in the Government Manifesto failed to galvanise support from the coalition partners. “In my opinion, the Government Manifesto is an agreement, and it’s good to meet agreements because that contributes towards the better functioning of the coalition,” she said.

The justice minister is aware that the issue of drugs policy changes is delicate, but she fully supports the conclusions of experts from a working group that has been busy with the bill since 2013. It was stated that under the current strict laws, Slovakia has shown itself to be incapable of catching and punishing drug dealers and has been criminalising drug users on a selective basis instead.

Most of the critics voiced displeasure with decriminalising the possession of hard drugs, although they claimed that they would support decriminalisation in the case of marijuana.