Tech & Rights

Ban on Marijuana Upheld by Polish Court

Legislation forbidding the possession and cultivation of marijuana is constitutional, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled, although it added that decriminalization laws would not necessarily be unconstitutional.

by Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

In 2011, Polish police found cannabis plants growing in L.P.’s apartment, along with picked and dried marijuana. A regional court gave him a suspended prison sentence, but he appealed to the Constitutional Tribunal, claiming that the provisions against drug possession are unconstitutional because "the ban on the cultivation and possession of marijuana constitutes the strongest possible limitation of individual autonomy in decision making and violates the right of the individual to control his personal life."

The court did not share his view. It held that the protection of the right to privacy and a person's decision-making power are not absolute and may be restricted in cases when it is necessary to protect other interests, such as public health.

Nevertheless, in its explanation of the ruling, the court made it clear that legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession could be constitutional. "The decisions of the legislature should be based on multifaceted research, the evaluation of existing solutions, the analysis of data and factors relevant to drug policy and the experience of other countries," reads the court’s statement, issued following the release of the verdict.

The Polish Parliament amended the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction in 2011, adding an article under which criminal proceedings could be discontinued if it is a case of possession of a "negligible quantity" of marijuana for personal use.

"The judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal does not change anything [from the 2011 law]," said Piotr Kubaszewski, a lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. "There are still different interpretations as to what ‘negligible quantity’ means, which is reflected in the small number of discontinued criminal proceedings under this provision."

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