No More Jail Terms for Drug Possession

No More Jail Terms for Drug Possession
Posted by CN Staff on May 13, 2004 at 15:57:28 PT
By Carl Schreck, Staff Writer 
Source: Moscow Times
Under a new law that came into effect this week, drug users can possess a greatly increased amount of an illegal substance -- for instance, 20 grams of marijuana or 1.5 grams of cocaine -- without the risk of being thrown in jail. The law has been criticized by the Federal Anti-Drug Service, which says it hampers the battle against drugs, but praised by those who work to rehabilitate drug addicts, who predict more addicts will now seek help.
President Vladimir Putin signed an amendment to the Criminal Code in December stipulating that possession of no more than 10 times the amount of a "single dose" would now be considered an administrative infraction rather than a criminal offense. Punishment would be a fine of no more than 40,000 rubles ($1,380) or community service.It then took five months to hammer out what would be considered the single dose of various drugs. Ten times the amount of a single dose, as set in the government resolution that came into effect Wednesday, is 20 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of hashish, mescaline or opium, 1.5 grams of cocaine, 1 gram of heroin or methamphetamine, and 0.003 grams of LSD. Anyone caught in possession of these amounts or less cannot legally be detained, a spokeswoman for the Moscow branch of the Federal Anti-Drug Service said. Instead, a report will be filed and the fine will be determined by a court.This is a major change. Under the old standards, someone caught with 0.1 grams of marijuana, for instance, could be punished by incarceration. Foreigners, even those with deep pockets, should still take the new law seriously, however. Yelena Zhigayeva, a lawyer at the Moscow law firm Haarmann Hemmelrath & Partner, said that by law foreigners who violate Russian drug laws, even if it is only an administrative infraction, can be expelled from the country or denied re-entry.Alexander Mikhailov, deputy head of the Federal Anti-Drug Service, was indignant about the resolution."The heroin dose is normal for a chronic drug user, but for a regular person it's nonetheless a dose of potassium cyanide," Mikhailov was quoted as saying in Kommersant on Thursday. "We were categorically against it, but the Justice Ministry simply went crazy chasing its European standards. "Now drug addicts have the right to run around with their pockets full of marijuana, and we can't even detain them."A spokesman for the Federal Anti-Drug Service was more diplomatic. "It's the law, and we are required to abide by it and enforce it," he said by telephone.The amounts for single doses were recommended by a group formed by the State Duma's Legislative Committee that included representatives from the Health, Justice and Interior ministries, the FSB and several NGOs. Lev Levinson, head of New Drug Policy, an advocacy group for drug law reform, was the coordinator of the group. "This is a brave, humane law," Levinson said. "Now that police will stop persecuting users, they can start focusing on real threats like large-scale drug trafficking."Vitaly Zhumagaliyev, head of the Moscow bureau of Harm Reduction, which works to rehabilitate drug addicts, said the new law will provide a boost to his organization's activities. Source: Moscow Times, The (Russia)Author: Carl Schreck, Staff Writer Published: Friday, May 14, 2004 - Page 3Copyright: 2004 The Moscow TimesContact: oped imedia.ruWebsite: Justice Archives
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Comment #34 posted by Jose Melendez on May 21, 2004 at 07:26:22 PT
End cannabis prohibitions now, globally
Sublingual: Evergreening: - - -Above links courtesy:Drug War, the ANTITRUST."Becaus parents who nag and confront their kids about drugs at an early age have been shown to drive those children to drink."As for "Action, the Antidrug.", in this country at least, ONDCP lies about kids continuing use of drugs, to the benefit of alcohol and incarceration industries, here's some more supporting evidence:
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Comment #33 posted by dapoopa on May 21, 2004 at 04:32:09 PT:
growing in Russia
Hi ekim,I believe I have heard about Russia's collection of hemp specimens being the largest in the world. I think I read about it in an article in the archive of Cannabis Anyway, did you know that Russia also has the world's largest collection of Tyrannasaurus Rex fossils? I heard it is located in a small museum not too far from Moscow. Have to check that place out sometime.As for home growing, it turns out that is covered in a different article of the new criminal code. Unfortunately, that has not been liberalized (yet), so possessing anything above 280 grams of undried cannabis carries a fine of between $85 and as much as $10,345. Or up to two years in prison. So that is an area that seriously needs amending. Plus, if you grow your own, the police might accuse you of consipring to distribute, which is really a judgement call on their part. In that case, you're in bigger trouble now, since the new laws have tightened penalties for distribution.As for cannabis being used to treat TB, I have not heard of any sort of medical cannabis initiative here in Russia. It will take time for society to get used to the new liberal possession laws, and then maybe at some point we can start thinking about medical use or even coffee shops! Now that would really be a Russian revolution.I'm not sure that Russia's recent decriminalization is less or more than what Denmark and Finland have already done. Maybe I'll do a little research and get back to you on that.Thanks for the questions.
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Comment #32 posted by ekim on May 14, 2004 at 20:56:43 PT
dapoopa I went down to Kal to the paper stand to get a Moscow Times but was told that they could not sell them but they had tried and lost much on the effort. when the real story of how Russia maintains the largest Hemp germplasm collection in the  World. at the Ni Vavilov scientific research institute of plant Vir in Saint Petersburg Russia. [I copied that down but do not remember where I saw it ] do you know if it is correct dapoopa?Also would you please tell us more about what will happen to the growers, we feel your pain as to your prisons having trouble with TB. Has anyone tried to use the plant Cannabis to fight or heal this most dastardly of infectious intruders.Finally tell us about Russia's decriminalization is even less than what Denmark and Finland have already done. We seldom get info on these two countries. Thank you Mike.
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Comment #31 posted by E_Johnson on May 14, 2004 at 15:49:03 PT
Dapoopa I think Putin is impressive
His crackdown on police corruption was pretty impressive. Maybe that's one advantage of having a leader from the KGB. He's not going to be impressed or intimidated by the regular police. 
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Comment #30 posted by E_Johnson on May 14, 2004 at 14:11:01 PT
Youth activists used to supposed Comrade Stalin
Stalin was able to drag out group after group of enthusiastic young apple cheeked supporters. There's a famous picture of him holding a young girl named Marksa Engelsina hugging her nation's beloved kindly father.I think Russians are now able to respond to these types of youth groups with a certain degree of cynicism. Which I don't think Americans have acquired yet. 
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Comment #29 posted by dapoopa on May 14, 2004 at 13:34:12 PT:
Duma didn't get around to it
No sooner had I posted my latest message than I read in the local Russian press that the Duma today never even got around to discussing, yet alone voting, on the resolution that would have appealed to Russian Prime Minister Fradkov to lower the amounts of "average doses".Now at this point we should take a broader look at what's going on here. Russia is currently deep in negotiations with the WTO about membership, which will definitely occur by the end of next year. The EU is of course a major part of this dialog. Hence, it would stand to reason that Russia has a vested interest in bringing their drugs policy even somewhat into line with that of most of Europe. Otherwise, they end up looking like extremist America. And since Prime Minister Fradkov used to be Russia's envoy to the WTO in Brussels, my sense is that he is keenly aware of how successful rational drugs policies can be given proper implementation. And we should not forget that President Putin lived several years in East Germany (yes, as a KGB spy), but lo and behold Berlin is now on the verge of a major decriminalization initiative as well. So there's no doubt in my mind that Putin is on board with the new drugs policy agenda. Despite what the Western media makes him out to be (with the blatant exception of his handling of the Chechnya situation), I have pretty much supported this guy. Heck, he even publicly upbraided the head of Russia's DEA in March for their tremendous underachievement (i.e. the "heroinization" of Russia, despite the massive number of arrests of those in simple possession, mostly for hash or marijuana).And in any event, since the issue of doses was decided at the highest levels of the Russian government, any Duma appeal -- if one is even passed -- would basically be tantamount to a public questioning of the wisdom of the new government. Which is not exactly wise politically considering that Putin just won a landslide victory in March and that Putin's party "Unity" has a near two-thirds legislative majority in the Duma after the December election.So as of this weekend, drugs policy in Russia, a country of 145 million people, is that much more humane and rational. Reason enough to spark up this evening in celebration.
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Comment #28 posted by FoM on May 14, 2004 at 12:19:39 PT
I Know Hope
Because they don't know how to think outside the box. 
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Comment #27 posted by Hope on May 14, 2004 at 12:16:37 PT
Why can't they be happy to rejoice in their decisions not to use drugs and let others rejoice in their freedom to choose? People are so darned weird.
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Comment #26 posted by FoM on May 14, 2004 at 11:15:05 PT
Related Article
MOSCOW: YOUTH ACTIVISTS RALLY AGAINST LEGAL DRUGS MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Anti-drug youth leagues rallied in Moscow's heart to protest against a federal government decree which establishes ceiling doses whose storage does not imply criminal liability. Several dozen activists of the National Anti-Drug League and the national movement, Voluntary Youth Patrols picketed the premises of the FSN, federal drug traffic monitoring service. Motto'ed, "We young choose life!", the rally came under streamers, "Death to kid-killer pushers!" and "No to legal drugs!" Quiet and peaceable, the pickets contacted Alexander Mikhailov, FSN deputy chief, to give him a protest petition. They have found the service an ally-it is determined to have the decree drastically amended, Mr. Mikhailov said to Novosti. Its standards are too liberal to curb addiction, he says. In fact, a permissible 0.1 gram heroin dose makes ten to fifteen dopes-pusher's paradise, though Russia is signatory to several international conventions that ban heroin and certain other drugs. Now, the decree legalises them to clash with those pledges. Government decree No. 231, of May 6, 2004, entered into force a few days ago to establish average drug and mood-changer doses whose storage and traffic is exempt from criminal liability. More than that, amendments of December 8, 2003, to Russia's Criminal Code abolish criminal liability for circulation-except sales-of drug batches within ten average one-time doses. The decree specifies average one-time doses of heroin, ketamine and cannabis as 0.1 grams, dried marijuana 2 grams, and cocaine 0.15 grams.
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on May 14, 2004 at 11:05:13 PT
Thank you!
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Comment #24 posted by dapoopa on May 14, 2004 at 11:03:31 PT:
negative reaction from Duma today
There has been a negative reaction today from certain members of the Russian State Duma, although at this point the most they can do is pass a resolution asking the prime minister to reconsider the size of these doses. Suffice to say that the members of the State Duma are acting on emotion and are being swayed by the rhetoric of the Russian equivalents of the DEA, the FBI and the FDA. The swewed arguments and fear mongering are now flying here in Russia, judging by the latest news reports. Even though Russia's decriminalization is even less than what Denmark and Finland have already done. And heavens knows the chaos and misery that has been inflicted on those countries as a result (sarcasm mode off).But in my opinion the liberal viewpoint will hold steady -- but we will see how things go. I'll keep the board posted.
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Comment #23 posted by breeze on May 14, 2004 at 10:11:39 PT
OOPS! I meant to also post this one too!!!
This one is a little more relevant to the conversation, but it still proves my point....
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Comment #22 posted by breeze on May 14, 2004 at 10:07:57 PT
Ah- You know he will only get a slap on the wrist
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Comment #21 posted by fearfull on May 14, 2004 at 08:32:45 PT
MY, My ,my
How the worm turns...
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Comment #20 posted by Jose Melendez on May 14, 2004 at 06:40:33 PT
DARE, caught again.
CHELMSFORD OFFICER PLEADS INNOCENT IN DARE THEFTS CAMBRIDGE - A Chelmsford police officer pleaded innocent yesterday to charges that he stole at least $30,000 from his department's DARE program over two years a significant portion of which a prosecutor says he spent on gambling. Prosecutors say Officer Michael Horan pilfered money from DARE fund-raisers, including an annual basketball game between Chelmsford police officers and students and teachers at the McCarthy and Parker middle schools.  Horan also kept cash from a DARE-sponsored flag football league and from various DARE raffles, according to Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney Rick Grundy. - snip . . . Horan is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing June 15. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $1,000 for each embezzlement charge, and up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000 for each of eight counts of larceny over $250.  Horan is also charged with two counts of larceny under $250.  
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Comment #19 posted by Had Enough on May 14, 2004 at 06:15:30 PT
Cops Find Pot, Not Robbers
Cops Find Pot, Not Robbers
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Comment #18 posted by dapoopa on May 14, 2004 at 04:29:45 PT:
Great news, but story not over yet
Let me preface this post by saying thanks to Virgil for your kind words. I do look forward to reading your posts on this board.Now for a little background info on this story. Back in March I wrote a letter to the editor of the Moscow Times after having researched Russia’s decriminalization laws online. At the time I was surprised that no English language media had covered this story yet. Carl Schreck then gave me a call and we talked a bit about this for another article he wrote for the MT on the drug police raiding nightclubs in Moscow (which is where I live).Then came news that the government had delayed a decision on determining the "average doses" for another two months. I believe the liberal faction won out in the end partially because the government wants to cut down the size of the drugs police as part of their broader administrative reform efforts. The State Narcotics Control (GNK) currently numbers about 40,000 officers (i.e. nearly as large as the DEA), and it is estimated that this new law may reduce their drug arrests by as much as one-third, i.e. less justification for so many officers. So I think the jobs aspect is really where the opposition to this new law is coming from, which mirrors my belief about the situation in the U.S. as well. I agree that drug war = jobs program.Also, it is important to note that a member of the Rodina (Motherland) party in the Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) has already put together a bill that challenges this new legislation, and a separate attempt may be made to amend the criminal code to do away with the idea of "average doses" altogether. Personally I think their chances of success are low, since this law was spearheaded by the current head of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak as well as Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, not to mention that it was signed by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikahil Fradkov. Also, the Rodina party only has 10-13% of seats in the Duma. Whatever the eventual outcome, this story is not yet over. Indeed, it would be naive to think that the anti-reform elements in the government would give up the fight so easily.There is also a question about the fines. The figure of $1,400 is actually the fine for possession of an amount equal to more than 10 average doses (a “large amount) but less than 50 doses (beyond which is considered an “exceptionally large amount”) without intent to distribute. The fine for less than 10 doses is only about $200 at a maximum (i.e. 5-10 times the minimum monthly wage). Plus there is the alternative possibility of 15 days of "administrative arrest" for more than 10 doses, but this does not apply to minors, invalids, pregnant women, or mothers with children less than 14 years old. Also, in my view the police would much rather collect fines, since the penalty is a fine or arrest, but not both. This is what they were doing anyway under the previous system, with the difference being that these “fines” were merely bribes to get someone out of jail, and they were much larger in any event (a few thousand dollars usually).So although there might be a “net-widening effect” as a result (as with the now-dead Bill C-10 in Canada), in my view this is absolutely preferable to the prospect of a long prison sentence. Especially in Russia.Moreover, and I think this is particularly relevant, Russia's new criminal code does not allow the confiscation of property related to the commission of a crime, drug-related or otherwise. In my view, this is one of the major reasons why the drug war continues to be prosecuted in the U.S. Lastly, one should be aware that in Russia, passing a law is one thing, but implementing it is quite another. So it will take some time for the police to get used to the new laws, but at least judges will have to follow the new guidelines. And the whole idea of the new law is that drug users will not have to face a judge in the first place. This is a major difference.I will keep this and other online boards informed about further developments. But for the time being, this is certainly great news over here – a 21st century Russian revolution if you will. Now what we need is some follow-through back home in the U.S.
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Comment #17 posted by BGreen on May 13, 2004 at 22:26:44 PT
A Russian Life Savings
Friday, May 14, 200440,000 Russian Rouble = 1,376.46 US Dollar
Currency Converter
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Comment #16 posted by Max Flowers on May 13, 2004 at 18:28:51 PT
Sorry, kind of lost it there... I realize Oprah is no journalist... I'm sure Montel could be if he wanted to.
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Comment #15 posted by Max Flowers on May 13, 2004 at 18:27:17 PT
TV Event of the Year
Perhaps what we need to defeat the "marijuana = drug" mindset is to televise a well-known journalist getting high on national TV so all of America once and for all can observe just how subtle and harmless the THC state is. Peter Jennings or Oprah Winfrey or perhaps Montel Williams could "get high" on a big TV special with doctors, neurologists, psychologists and other specialists standing by who will run reflex, cognition, psychological and other evaluations so that ONCE AND FOR ALL we can de-stigmatize the thing and show the whole friggin' country at once that not a whole lot happens when a stable, normal person uses cannabis, and more importantly that nothing bad happens. Maybe then, all these fukin' stoopid politicians and totally biased and propaganda-blinded people could satisfy themselves (or their fears be exposed as baseless) that there is no threat to it, and in fact several orders of magnitude far less threat than that from alcohol use.
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Comment #14 posted by kaptinemo on May 13, 2004 at 18:18:29 PT:
Domino Theory - In reverse
This is truly amazing. One former DrugWar hard-line country after another is falling away from the US DrugWar orbit Click, click, click, down goes the extremist positions in favor of harm-reduction policies. Just like the fabled 'domino theory' of the 'Cold War'. Only this time, instead of free nations falling to Communism, it's the fascist policies of putative democracies that are falling.Which increasingly isolates the US as being the progenitor and enabler of those self-same fascistic and irrational policies.It was the Russians who spurred the US into the Space Race by being the first in space; now will they goad the US again? The irony is beyond words... 
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Comment #13 posted by billos on May 13, 2004 at 18:01:40 PT:
This quote bothers me..........
"Now drug addicts have the right to run around with their pockets full of marijuana, and we can't even detain them."The antis, no matter what country or culture they exist in, still say stupid crap such as the quote above.THEY ALL STILL EQUATE MARIJUANA TO DRUGS AND ADDICTS. They don't see the separation. It's a very powerful mindset. Until we figure out how to beat it, the war will move onward.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on May 13, 2004 at 17:29:39 PT
Sri Lanka to Legalise Cannabis
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 13, 2004 at 17:13:47 PT
Then Hurray for Russia!
They beat us to the punch!
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on May 13, 2004 at 17:08:09 PT
This really looks like wonderful news.
Is Moscow a happier place tonight?
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Comment #9 posted by E_Johnson on May 13, 2004 at 17:07:25 PT
A sign of superior science education
The Russian government knows that dried marijuana weighs less than fresh marijuana. Is there any sign that this is also true in America?LIMITS:Marijuana 20 grams (dried)Marijuana 280 grams (undried)Hashish 5 grams 
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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on May 13, 2004 at 17:03:46 PT
The last time I was in Moscow, 40,000 rubles was about twenty bucks. But thingshave changed since then.
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Comment #7 posted by OverwhelmSam on May 13, 2004 at 16:59:34 PT
Damn, Russians Beat US To It.
Amazing! I can't believe that the Russians implemented a more humane policy toward drug users before the US did. But then again, the conservative pundits in America are a heartless bunch.FoM, It says up to 40,000 rubles. There's no indication that they will be fined that much in every case.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 13, 2004 at 16:47:30 PT
an administrative infraction ?
They need to just switch the "milkers" to the "tax" udders instead of the "infraction" udders of the cash cow they have.
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Comment #5 posted by Virgil on May 13, 2004 at 16:37:33 PT
Read Dapoopa at HempCity
There are ten comments at the thread at HempCity- Dapoopa knows his stuff on Russian and people should read him.
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Comment #4 posted by Virgil on May 13, 2004 at 16:31:40 PT
Another big deal
This is an enactment of what has been expected. Nobody new the limits and this article tells us that 20 grams is the limit.What happens in Berlin and when will be some huge news. It might as well be legal. It isn't going away and arresting people is just stupid much less inflicting harm the prohibitionists claim to oppose.Dapoopa is the comment to look for hear. He is the one that puts up the Russian news at HempCity.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 13, 2004 at 16:27:00 PT
I Don't Understand The Fine
That sounds like a lot of money to fine someone. 
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on May 13, 2004 at 16:12:35 PT
THis sentence is loaded with hidden pathos
 "Now that police will stop persecuting users, they can start focusing on real threats like large-scale drug trafficking."Like the large scale drug and human traffickers who hire entire Russian police units as their contract killers?
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Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on May 13, 2004 at 16:08:57 PT
The Russians beat us to the moon after all
Oh gosh, America lost this contest. Better luck next time, land of mine.
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