Drug laws and usage in Croatia

When we talk about drugs in Croatia, they are all the same in the eyes of the law. There is no differentiation in classification between marijuana and heroin, for example, meaning that punishments are focused on intent and volume rather than the type.

The most used drug in Croatia is cannabis, followed by amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA. Heroin users are the most common users of rehab programs.

Drug laws in Croati
Image by Forbes

Drug Laws in Croatia

The laws that are cover drugs in Croatia are:

  1. Zakon o suzbijanju zlouporabe opojnih droga (Law on Suppression of Narcotic Drug Abuse)
  2. Kazneni zakon (Criminal Law)

According to the Law on Suppression of Narcotic Drug Abuse, drugs are defined as any substances of natural or artificial origin (including psychotropic substances) that are listed as narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The extensive and comprehensive list of drugs, substances, psychotropic substances, and plants used for making drugs recognized by the Republic of Croatia can be found here.

Drugs for Personal Use

It is important to know that owning drugs for personal use isn’t considered a criminal act in Croatia, and is instead treated as prekršaj (a misdemeanor). People who consume drugs can face a financial penalty ranging from 1.000 kn to 20.000 kn.

If you are caught with drugs, depending on which kind and how much you have, one of two things will happen. For small personal amounts, you’ll just be ticketed and forced to pay a fine on the spot by the police officer. For larger amounts or if there is any indication that you have intent to distribute, you’ll have to go to court.

The law does not define amounts and punishments for personal use of drugs. Since this is the case, there is a lot of discretion given to the police officer and/or the judge presiding over your case. Every case is unique and judges decide select the penalty depending on a variety of factors and circumstances.

These factors are usually the drug type, amount, person’s age, and whether or not this is the first offense. Judges are sometimes forgiving and levy small financial penalties, and sometimes they are tougher, so penalties are bigger.

Criminal Drug Use

Seized drugs in Croatia
Image by N1

While personal drug use may get you just a fine, the criminal code levies serious penalties for severe cases of drug use, distribution, trafficking, or enabling.

The criminal drug punishment categories and their associated sentences are as follows:

  1. Neovlaštena proizvodnja i promet drogama (Unauthorized drug production and trafficking)

→ Punishments are between 6 months and 15 years of prison

  1. Omogućavanje trošenja droga (Enabling drug consumption)

→ Punishments are between 6 months and 15 years of prison

  1. Neovlaštena proizvodnja i promet tvari zabranjenih u sportu (Unauthorized production and trafficking of substances forbidden in sports)

→ Punishments are between 6 months and 15 years of prison

  1. Teška kaznena djela protiv zdravlja ljudi (Serious crimes against human health)

→ Punishments are between 6 months and 12 years of prison

  1. Vožnja pod utjecajem droge (Driving under the influence of drugs)

→ Punishments are up to 3 years of prison

In criminal courts, rehab in a therapeutic community with professional help can be recommended. In cases where the prison sentence is up to six months, the following alternative measures may be prescribed instead of going to prison:

  • Fines
  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Treatment

Drug Dealers from Abroad

Selling drugs at Croatia music festivals
Image by Nacional.hr

There is an increasing trend of EU citizens, specifically British citizens, coming to Croatia during summer season to sell drugs at popular festivals around the country. What may be viewed as a financial opportunity is really just stupid. If you are caught, you will go to prison in Croatia. Prison in Croatia is NOT NICE.

Since Croatia is in the EU, all EU citizens within Croatia are supposed to have the same rights and be treated just like Croatian citizens. In practice, this is not the case. There have been multiple instances where foreign citizens have been held for weeks and months without bail because there is an understandable risk they may leave the country before their trial. Yes, this is discrimination, but that argument won’t get you far if you’ve been caught distributing drugs in Croatia.

If you’re reading this article because you are considering bringing drugs to Croatia with the intent to sell, DO NOT DO IT.

Drug Use in Croatia

Drug Use Statistics in Croatia
Image by European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Drugs are used by approximately 50.000 people in Croatia. Cannabis was the most used drug in 2018 and it is the most popular drug among young adults (between 15 and 34 years old). One out of 5 persons between 15 and 64 stated that they have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, and 2 out of 10 young adults stated that they have used it at least once last year. The popularity of cannabis is still rising and it is used more often between the males (~22%) than the females (~10%).

The use of cocaine has increased and it is mostly used during weekends. MDMA and amphetamines are also popular drugs in Croatia, but their usage has slowed. Men consume cocaine, MDMA, and amphetamines more often than females.

A big trend among the youth in Croatia is the increase in the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) which is slightly above the EU average. Seven out of 100 students and young adults have tried NPS at least once in their lifetime. Some new “drugs” like air fresheners and cartridges of nitrogen oxide have become widespread among the youth.

The data from drug treatment institutions shows that people report cannabis as their primary problem, but heroin users are the most common patients in treatment programs. Heroin usage has decreased by ~90% in the last decade but it is still the primary drug problem in Croatia.

Let’s throw out some stats:

  • Men are more often treated for drug addiction than women (~5:1)
  • 15-year-olds are the most exposed to drugs
  • The youngest person in rehab was 13 years old
  • The oldest person in rehab was 76 years old
  • Croatia has around 9000 users of opioid drugs
  • Top seized drugs are herbal cannabis, heroin, amphetamines, cocaine, and MDMA

The complete statistics about drug usage in Croatia in 2018 can be seen here. The key statistics on drug usage in general are available here. This statistical data is provided by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

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