Drug use and Possession

Drug use itself is not criminalised but administrative sanctions are applied for use of narcotic and psychotropic substances without medical prescription, or unauthorized acquisition and storage of small amounts of narcotic and psychotropic substances. Sanctions available are a fine (max 75LVL, approx. €130) or administrative detention (max 15 days).

The Cabinet of Ministers' "Regulations on Graduation of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances and Medicines Being in Illicit Trafficking, per Quantity", determines precisely the amount of drugs which is considered large enough to open a criminal investigation. If the amount found is more than this, then usually the police, rather than the prosecutor, start a criminal case for drug crimes.

Trafficking and drug related crime

Illegal manufacture, purchase, keeping, transportation and transfer of drugs and psychotropic substances is punishable by a term of imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years, with or without the forfeiture of property. The same offences if committed with the purpose of subsequent sale, or unauthorised sale of drugs or psychotropic substances is punishable by a term of imprisonment for a period of up to 10 years, with or without the forfeiture of property and police control for a period of up to 3 years.

However, if the same offences involve large amounts of drugs or psychotropic substances or particularty dangerous drugs, or involves theft of narcotic or psychotropic substances from hospitals, pharmacy shops etc., the applicable sentence is imprisonment for a period of 8 to 15 years, with or without the forfeiture of property and police supervision for a period of up to 3 years.

Latvian law also considered as drug crimes inducement to use narcotic and psychotropic substances; administering of narcotic and psychotropic substances against a person’s will; and the unauthorised sowing and growing of plants containing narcotic substances.

Substitution treatment

The court may release a person who has committed a criminal offence when under the influence of drugs from serving the sentence, if the said person has agreed to undergo treatment. The sentence is to be enforced if the person has not started the treatment at the time established by court or has evaded treatment.

The court may pass a suspended sentence if it is convinced that the guilty person, if released from serving the sentence, will not commit any offences in future. Upon suspended sentence, if the person has committed a criminal offence when under the influence of alcoholism, drug addiction or substance abuse, the court may impose the duty on the convicted person with the latter's consent to undergo treatment from alcoholism, drug addiction or substance abuse. If the convicted person fails to perform duties imposed by court, it can apply to the agency which has been entrusted with control over the behaviour of the convicted person, and take the decision to enforce the sentence established in the judgement or to extend the probation period for one year.

Treatment services are mostly provided by the state. The drug user is considered to be a patient and enjoys the same treatment possibilities as any other patient and on the same conditions. Treatment both in hospitals and as out-patients is voluntary.

Under Regulation Nr.120 issued by the Ministry of Welfare (dated 06.05.96) the Latvia Association of Professionals for Drug and Alcohol Dependency Treatment was allowed to start methadone therapy at the State hospital for Drug and Alcohol Dependency (now - the Centre of Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment). Substitution treatment is not allowed in prisons.

The Law on the Protection of Children's Rights includes an article on special educational institutions where children can receive treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Precursors

For a person who commits manufacture, acquisition, storage, transportation or conveyance of precursors intended for the unauthorised manufacture of narcotic or psychotropic substances, the punishment is a maximum fine of 50 times the minimum monthly wage, or up to 3 years in prison. If the offence is committed for sale, or the purposes of sale, of such precursors, the maximum imprisonment rises to 10 years, with a possible ban on certain types of employment for up to 5 years.

Tobacco

Persons under 18 years of age are not allowed to purchase cigarettes. It is prohibited in public places and in all public transport. However, smoking is permited in bars and restaurants and other public actering establishments, although owners must set up no-smoking rooms. If smoking is prohibited, it is specially indicated with a smoking-ban sign. Cigarette vending machines are also prohibited.

Alcohol

It is illegal to sell alcohol to a person under 18. Selling alcoholic beverages in stores, with the exception of bars, clubs and restaurants, is prohibited between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Drinking in public is prohibited. Unlike the driver, passengers are allowed to consume alcohol in the car.