Bratislava, February 20 (TASR) – The Slovak National Party (SNS) objects to a Justice Ministry-sponsored draft law on the decriminalisation of certain drugs, so the SNS ministers will not support it at the Cabinet session on Wednesday (February 21), TASR learnt from a SNS press report sent to the media on Tuesday.
“The legislative proposal on decriminalising narcotics and psychotropic substances in Slovakia should go through a nation-wide discussion,” reads the report. According to SNS, the law must be well-designed so that the number of current drug users won’t go up after the new legislation is adopted.
“We think that emphasis should be put on prevention and not on drug decriminalisation, which includes heroin and cocaine,” stressed SNS caucus leader Tibor Bernatak. The party further pointed out that even though decriminalising drugs in certain cases might bring some savings for the Justice Ministry, as it’s expected that the number of people found guilty of drug-related issues will go down, health care costs on the other hand will go up.
Justice Ministry spokesman Peter Bubla said in response that the draft law stems from the Government Manifesto. “It’s passed the standard legislative process, including the preliminary comment phase, the proper inter-ministerial comment phase, the Government Council on Drug Policy and the Government Legislative Council. No comments that would prevent us from coming to an agreement with other ministries have been raised in the process. We’re submitting the proposal without contradiction,” said Bubla.
The ministry’s spokesperson went on to say that prevention forms an essential part of the proposal. “In this point we agree with experts who, when drafting the proposal, concurred that if a person is caught with a small amount of drugs, prevention should be given priority over charges,” he added.
The new drug legislation prepared by Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most Hid) seeks to decriminalise the possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use. In the new bill, the ministry proposes that possessing a negligible amount of drugs should be recorded only as an offence and punished by a fine if it’s the first time. Only when there are repeated violations of the law within 12 months should this be viewed as a crime. In addition, the aim of the bill is to punish drug dealers in particular more harshly than ‘recreational drug users’ and to provide better help and prevention when it comes to drugs in general.