Ukraine is Europe: a legal “high”

Legalayz — a fashionable topic in the world. More and more countries every year allow their citizens to use marijuana for personal or medical purposes. But not puritanical Ukraine. Even domestic supporters legalise prefer to talk about decriminalization of “soft drugs”, not about full legalization.


NAU Krajina partial legalise began in 2005, when the proponents of decriminalization of cannabis had its first demonstration. In the end, the so-called hemp Freedom March has become an annual tradition. Twelve years ago, activists protested against narcocorruption security organs and demanded the establishment of a national strategy on drugs.

To achieve this they managed in 2013 — on 28 August the government adopted the Strategy of public policy in relation to drugs for the period up to 2020. Among other things, this document provided for the change of emphasis in the work of law enforcement agencies regarding drug trafficking. It was decided to determine the priority “focus on identifying the illegal activities of organized criminal groups, because criminal punishment of drug users and small dealers does not affect significantly the decrease in the level of drug use among the population.”

Thus, it was assumed that the number of court sentences article 307 of the Criminal code of Ukraine “Illegal production, production, acquisition, storage, transportation, shipment or sales of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their analogues” needs to grow significantly. Especially in comparison to article 309 of the criminal code providing for the same action, only without the purpose of sale of narcotic drugs (for personal use).

Within a few years after the creation and signing of this Strategy marijuana Freedom March in Ukraine was conducted. But activists watched her perform, and as it has appeared, knowingly — defined priorities only on paper…


Decriminalization instead of legalization


According to the state judicial administration of Ukraine, in 2016, all parts of article 307 of the criminal code has been convicted of 729 people. But only as regards 1 article 309 of the criminal code (referring to storage without a purpose of selling small amounts of illegal drugs) — more than 5 thousand people.

“In most cases, it was just about cannabis is the criminal liability for which we have starts for possession without intent to sell 5 grams is the lowest threshold among all the countries of Europe” — said the press attache of the March of Freedom Taras Ratushny. He adds that, for example, in one of the freest in this regard, the Netherlands has not prosecuted a criminal to 30 grams, in the Czech Republic, to 15 grams. On this basis, the activists demand the Freedom March to decriminalize part 1. 309 of the criminal code — that is, to transfer the responsibility from the category of criminal in the administrative.

This idea is supported in the Eurasian Institute of international drug policy. According to his staff, lawyer Vladimir Buyalsky, first, the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal purposes are not as socially dangerous to people to send to jail. As a result, the state spends on their upkeep huge amounts of money. And, secondly, administrative liability will apply to such people the full treatment and rehabilitation that simply is impossible in prison.

“In addition, according to statistics, in 2016 5067 of persons convicted on p. 1. 309 2869 to have been applied fine. But in the Code of Ukraine on administrative offences, too, have the sanction of “fine”. Why then begin an investigation, incriminating criminal liability?”, says Buyalsky. The lawyer stressed that demanding the decriminalization activists mean it for “small amounts of drugs.” For higher doses, the criminal liability shall remain in force and continue.

In support of the replacement of criminal liability under part 1 of article 309 of the criminal code, the administrative favor, and the lawyer Kirill Sergeyev. “The majority of defendants under this article students. And often the conviction they are excluded from universities, do not take then to work. As a citizen, I am against the idea of legalization of soft drugs, but possession of small doses is not considered a crime. It’s really easy violation for which the young man of a fine is enough as a punishment, to ruin his life with a criminal record is too much,” he says. In principle, the size of the “small amount” of drugs is defined by the order №188 of the Ministry of health. And if the Ministry of health changed the size, increasing the threshold from the current 5 grams — about the amendments to the criminal code it does not entered. “However, we are several years struggling to the Ministry of health has changed their table — they don’t want. Say that have to agree on this issue with the interior Ministry, prosecutors, court. And all could be solved with a signature Ulyana Suprun… That we had to complicate the work — to demand the decriminalization of part 1. 309 — because if that part is eliminated, then you need to make changes to the table of the Ministry of health”, explains the coordinator of the global campaign “Support. Don’t punish” Pavlo Skala.

He notes that on the global level, the theme of complete or partial legalise constantly on the ear. More and more countries soften their laws and state drug policy. For example, in the United States each year, an increasing number of States that supported the legalization of marijuana: “Yes, dependent people still use drugs, but do it more safely. But law enforcement system are not after “planogram”, and engaged in the disclosure of serious crimes, robberies, assaults, murders. And it works,” says Rock.

According to him, in countries where there has been legalization/decriminalization of the use or storage of marijuana, not only decreased the level of criminality, but also increased income from taxes because of illegal business has become extremely profitable legal. However, this did not increase the number of drug addicts. And this situation is observed not only in USA but also in many European countries — the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal. “Penaliziruetsya questions open, in particular, in Montreal, another two rooms for safe drug use in Canada.

At the conference, I returned the other day, cited the experience of France, where six months ago opened the first room of drug use for 6 months used it several hundred consumers was 30 thousand visits, and not one case of overdose. A decrease in the prevalence of HIV infections, hepatitis C (transmitted through injecting drug use, approx. ed.) and now they decide to open some more rooms around the country, although initially this idea very negatively perceived by the General public,” he says.

“School” under Cabinet

Failure to comply with the authority signed by its National strategy of drug policy has forced the activists to return to the government quarter after a long break. On Saturday, may 20, under the Cabinet of Ministers with their demands came about a hundred people. But, according to the organizers — Association for civic initiative “Objective reality” is just the first action in the framework of the “hemp” March of Freedom, which is tentatively scheduled for 16 September this year.

According to Taras Ratushny, the aim of this spring campaign is to draw attention to the problem, and in the fall “March will have significantly more people.” Judging by contingent events, these are people 20-30 years of different professions — musicians, artists, journalists, students, human rights activists, lawyers. On Saturday, they came to the building of the Cabinet with the meter cardboard “frame” someone was in bandannas and socks with images of cannabis, someone took the trouble to make posters: “Freedom, equality, decriminalization”, “Not our smiles are destroying the country”. “I drink, but don’t want to be on a par with common criminals and do not understand why it is implied by the criminal punishment, as if I was a repeat offender? I don’t see anything criminal in the fact that I smoke in the evening after work,” says programmer Asya. “I’m not arrogant, not stand and do not smoke in the street,” she adds.

Her view is echoed by other participants. Moreover, many of them believe that marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and perhaps even less dangerous than, for example, sugar. “I have enough to smoke two or three times a year, and chocolate like every day. What more drugs?” says future student of the University of Kiev Lesya. “Alcohol leads to more dire consequences. I’m not for the legalization of hard drugs. But the grass is not the worst,” says the musician Anton.

“For most people, nothing bad will happen. Smoking pot is not addictive,” — said one of the adults participating shares Olga. She is now 57 years old and she admits that, from time to time, uses marijuana with a 14-year-old. However, voiced other opinions. For example, that “it helps to love people” or “weed should be legalized because it is a sacred plant”… an Official appeal with their demands, the organizers sent to the Cabinet of Ministers yesterday.

According to Taras Welcoming, activists expect that it will be considered in the next week. “We want to see the government’s response to this action, we want public speeches and review by authorized persons, first and foremost, the interior Ministry, because it is their statistics [on the sentences]. No matter who they bring in public statements, though, Kivu,” he says. By the way, adviser to the Minister of internal Affairs, the former head of the Department for combating drug crimes Ilya Kiva, which recalls the protesters had earlier vowed to make every effort to make everyone “handed summons to those wishing to uncontrolled easy buzz has fulfilled his duty to the Fatherland.”

In response to such a position of Advisor to Avakov, the veterans batalyony “Aydar” and “Donbass” has even recorded a video message in which he said that the demand action is not a “desire with impunity high”, and the question of the effectiveness of the work of the interior Ministry in combating drug trafficking. It is curious that, for the most part, the participants in the marijuana Freedom March in favor of the decriminalization of articles of the criminal code for possession and personal use of marijuana. The theme is full legaliza sounds only a refrain, although this should be the ultimate goal of such events (judging from world practice). According to lawyer Sergey telesheva, it would allow solving a number of problems.

First, to overcome one of the methods of the illegal earnings of law enforcement officers. “Corruption associated with the trafficking of drugs or psychotropic substances, very much. Such substances are thrown in different ways, or even, indeed, to find (for example, young people with cannabis are often caught on the benches) and begin to speculate on that — call parents, and went: “your child was caught, cook 5 thousand dollars”… This is certainly method of earning, not prevention of the crime,” he says.

Secondly, the legalization of this type of business can give considerable economic effect. The lawyer notes that, for example, after the disappearance of the crime of “speculation”, in the former Soviet Union flourished enterprise. “In other words, why impose on the person a fine or jail if he pays taxes? I believe that a public policy of legalization of cannabis as very easy kind of drugs should be made in a similar vein,” — said Sergei Teleshev.

In his opinion, it is important to organize a system of legalization of soft drugs: with a limited list of permitted substances (only light!), to enter a tax or excise tax, to avoid a chaotic distribution, connect any sanitary inspection to prevent the substitution of one substance to another… And, thirdly, according to the lawyer, it is important to note that, despite all kinds of bans, smoke weed people out.

“People will still use it. And don’t think that after legalization, consumption will increase… But this is another point. I’ve never even heard of while Smoking cannabis were any domestic crime, while on the background of alcohol use — constantly and everywhere. And what is worse to eat?”, he says.


Yes cannabis for medical purposes


In addition to the decriminalization part 1. 309 of the Penal code, activists of the “hemp” March would review and public policy in the use of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, and also insist on the need to legalize a limited controlled rotation. After all, the world research experiences and numerous clinical studies evidence the positive effects of the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Marijuana or substances contained in it, is used in the treatment of various neurological (chronic pain, epilepsy, anorexia, depression, PTSD) and other somatic or mental diseases.

According to family physician and graduate of the Institute of physiology. Bogomolets of NAS of Ukraine Yevhen Honchar, Ukraine is now basically impossible to work and conduct research with marijuana and the cannabinoids (substances contained in marijuana). Eugene — a supporter of legalization by the government for scientific research and medical use of cannabis and its derivatives. “But we are talking only about medical use solely by prescription, and not a wholesale legalization, when each could be anywhere on the street or in the pharmacy to buy cannabis,” he says.

At the present time the use of marijuana for medical purposes is allowed in some US States, Canada, many European Union countries, in particular in the Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and other countries. In Australia, cannabis for medical purposes was legalized last fall in Israel — a few months ago. “Of course, we cannot say that marijuana has absolutely no side effects. Just in some diseases, the positive effects of therapy outweigh negative. Moreover, any medical drug has both positive effects and side, which arise at irrational application”, — said Gonchar.

According to him, in the world there are also many scientific publications which demonstrate that the negative effects of the prolonged use of marijuana (dependence, weakening of cognitive functions, lung disease and others) do not exceed or even less pronounced than in people who long-term use alcohol or tobacco. By the way, less than a month ago by Ukrainian scientists joined the call to legalize the use of cannabis for science by publishing an open letter to the Cabinet.

“In practice, developed countries are cannabinoids, in particular, no alternative pharmacological tool for children with severe congenital epilepsy — these children are from fifty to a hundred epileptic seizures a day. The laws on scientific activities and forbid Ukrainian scientists conduct research, the results of which in the near future could reduce child mortality”, — said one of the signatories of the appeal, candidate of biological Sciences, laureate of the State prize in science and technology Dmitry Isaev. This question, by the way, officials have already begun to discuss.

In particular, at the meeting of the State service of Ukraine on control of drugs and narcotics, it was decided to create working group which closely will be engaged in development of necessary changes. But how quickly they come to life and materialize it at all — a question. Another question — will there be a dialogue between the government and activists that support legalize. And last but not less important question: a is to all this the Ukrainian society? As shown, Europe, many Ukrainians love only as long as their beliefs do not begin to be at odds with the Western — whether it’s the legalization of sex work, LGBT parade or “tuning” of the people’s Friendship Arch in the capital.