Drug laws and usage in Croatia

Drug laws in Croati
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UPDATED: 13/09/2022

When we talk about drugs in Croatia, they are all the same in the eyes of the law. The law simply refers to drugs, plants, or substances for making drugs.

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 cocaine, and amphetamines. Croatia is among the European countries where the most marijuana is used.

On the European scale of wastewater analysis for drugs, Zagreb holds 11th place for cocaine use and 12th for amphetamine use. According to HZJZ, 83% of all treated addicts are opiate addicts. Heroin users are the most common users of rehab programs.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Drug laws and drug usage in Croatia

Drug laws in Croatia

The laws that cover drugs in Croatia are:

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 Croatia can be found here.

Drugs for personal use in Croatia

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 the 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 to 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

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:

Drug dealers from abroad

There is an increasing trend of foreigners coming to Croatia during summer season to sell drugs at popular festivals around the country. This “financial opportunity” is a tremendously risky one. If you are caught, you will go to prison in Croatia. Prison in Croatia is NOT NICE.

Since Croatia is in the EU/EEA, all EU/EEA 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

In 2021, 8.951 drug seizures were recorded in Croatia. Cannabis is the most used drug. Croatia is also among the European countries where the most cannabis is used.

Cannabis is followed by cocaine and amphetamines. According to the European scale of wastewater analysis for drugs, Zagreb is in 11th place due to cocaine use and 12th for amphetamine use.

83,1% of treated addicts are addicted to opiates – around 7.200 and 11.547 people, mostly to heroin. 10% of treated addicts are addicted to cannabinoids, and 2,6% to cocaine and stimulative drugs. Istria and Zadar counties had the highest rate of treated people in 2021.

When talking about non-opiate drugs, the majority of treated addicts are addicted to cannabis.

According to HZJZ, the approximate age of treated addicts is 40,4. Addicts who come for treatment for the first time approximately have 28,5 years of age. Experimenting with drugs usually starts at the age of 17,2.

The wastewater analysis of drugs from 2021 showed that the use of cocaine in Zagreb has significantly grown in the last 10 years. Cocaine 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. Approximately 7 out of 100 students and young adults have tried NPS at least once in their lifetime.

The latest official European statistics about drug usage in Croatia is available here. This statistical data is provided by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

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Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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