Drug use and possession

Greek law establishes that "any person who for his own exclusive use, obtains or possess whatsoever drugs in small quantity, or makes use of them,.. is punished with imprisonment.' However, arrested users are in fact distinguished by addicts and not addicts.

Non addicts arrested for possession or making use of a very small quantity of drugs can be arrested and sentenced from 10 days to 5 years and/or a fine. At their first offence they have to follow a counselling programme as alternative to a prison sentence. Drug addicts receive a more lenient treatment due to the fact that the Greek legal system considers the addiction as the dominant cause of the drug related offence. Therefore, drug addicts arrested for use or possession for personal use are declared non punishable, when the finality of the act, personal use, is recognised by the prosecutor. The person will be then invited to follow a therapeutic programme.

In practice, treatment facilities for drug offenders sent by courts are not available so the person will be released. Drug addicts will face the strongest penalties in cases of possession of quantities that go beyond those considered as for personal use: from 1 to 5 years, and up to 10 years when some form of traffic is involved.

In general, the chances of non-punishment (No Further Actions) are enhanced when it is a less dangerous drug. In practice heroin is often considered as a very dangerous drug followed by cocaine, while others substances are considered as less dangerous.

Drug trafficking and related crimes

Transport, sale, and production are the offences that can be associated with the concept of drugs traffic in Greece, where the penalties envisaged are among the heaviest in Europe.

The Greek law foresees life in prison when the illicit traffic is carried out in the framework of a criminal organization. The basic penalty for illicit drug traffic is a prison term of at least 10 years and a fine. The law foresees some 'special cases' such as introducing drugs into a school which are punished with at least 15 years of imprisonment and a fine. Recidivism or acting professionally will attract penalties up to perpetuity.

If it is proven that personal use was the main cause for trafficking small amounts, the person might receive a sentence of minimum 6 months imprisonment, instead of a term of imprisonment up to 10 years, that could be either exchanged for a fine or suspended. Moreover, the same law introduces similar 'facilitations' in case of acquisitive crimes, with no violence, committed by drug users to finance their own addiction.

Exchange of small quantities of drugs between users proven to be exclusively for personal use is considered as misdemeanour.

Substitution treatment

Diversions of proceedings into treatment or other kinds are typically applied only if it is mandatory by law. When these alternatives are provided as an option, they are introduced with reluctance. This happens either because of the legal prerequisites, which are rarely all met, or because the criminal justice system does not consider it as appropriate for the case. There are few cases in which therapy is ordered instead of treatment.


The Customs Code provides penalties of at least 10 years' imprisonment and fines of €3,000-300,000 for illegal import, production, distribution or possession of precursors knowing that they are going to be used for the illegal production of drugs.

There are also administrative penalties which lists the fines payable by firms who do not respect the conditions required by the Ministerial Accord E2200/600 of 1/7/1994. These include the keeping of professional records concerning the import, export, manufacture and trade of precursor.

Alcohol and Tobacco

In Greece is not heavily enforced the age to purchase beverage alcohol and tobacco (18) and there is no minimum age for consumption.

However, to smoke in enclosed public spaces is prohibited in Greece. Smokers who break the law face fines of up to €500, and businesses risk losing licences after several offences. On the first offence, businesses will be fined €1,000. Repeat offenders will face even bigger fines, and ultimately, on the fourth violation, could risk losing their licence. But again, this is not heavily enforced.

Opiate substitute Treatment

Substitution treatment has seen a systematic expansion and decentralisation since late 2002. Pharmaceutical substances used in substitution treatment are methadone which was introduced in 1993 and buprenorphine which was introduced in 2002. Both needle and syringe exchange programmes and opioid substitution therapy are available in Greece.