The legal regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Sections

AB'STRACT
Introduction
Earlier legislation
More recent legislation

Details

Author: E. A. BABAYAN
Pages: 73 to 81
Creation Date: 1990/01/01

The legal regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

E. A. BABAYAN Chairman, Standing Committee on Narcotic Drugs Control, Ministry of Public Health, Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

AB'STRACT

The author presents a review of Soviet legislation ion illicit drug production, sale and consumption,- as well -as on care and treatment for drug-addicted persons, in the context of existing international drug control conventions.

Introduction

According to existing international conventions to which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a party, it is an obligation of States to enact the necessary statutory instruments, -including criminal -sanctions, to regulate the production, sale and consumption of illicit drugs and to provide preventive care and treatment for drug-addicted persons.

The legal instruments in the USSR fall into three categories: (a) all-union laws and legislative acts (laws and decrees of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the ordinances of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council of Ministers of the USSR; (b) instruments issued by the individual union republics; and (c) instruments that originate from the specifically authorized ministries and departments and are departmental and interdepartmental in character but binding on all ministries and departments.

Soviet legal statutory instruments reflect not only the internal peculiarities of Soviet law but also international requirements that are contained in the conventions to which the USSR is a party. This article deals with the particular features of these statutory instruments, the way they have evolved and the role that is played in this important part of the effort to combat the illicit traffic in, and abuse of, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, not only by legislative acts, laws, decrees and ordinances of the Soviet Union but also by departmental regulations. Since the earliest formative years of the Soviet Administration, fundamental legislative instruments have been enacted defining the relationship of the State to the problems involved in the regulation of the production, sale and consumption of narcotic drugs.

Earlier legislation

In 1928, under a decree on the regulation of trading in narcotic drugs, the free circulation of cocaine and its salts, of hashish, opium, morphine, heroin, dionine and their salts, and of pantopone (mixed alkaloids of opium) was prohibited within the borders of the USSR.

In 1934, the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars issued a decree prohibiting the sowing of opium poppy and Indian cannabis, except in those growing areas in which the harvests were used exclusively to satisfy the medical and scientific needs of the USSR. The sowing of opium poppy or Indian cannabis without permission was considered a criminal offence and all such crops were to be confiscated.

In 1937, the Council of People's Commissars entrusted to the USSR People's Commissariat for Public Health the responsibility of monitoring and controlling the production, processing, storage, trading and use of opium and its derivatives and of other narcotic drugs anywhere in the USSR. The Commissariat was also given the responsibility of maintaining liaison with the appropriate committees and the Secretariat of the League of Nations on matters pertaining to the regulation and control of, and statistical reporting on, opium, its derivatives and other narcotic drugs within the USSR.

In accordance with Soviet legislation, all of the republics have enacted special statutory instruments as part of the effort to combat the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and to prevent their abuse. In the legislation of the union republics and, in particular, in their criminal codes, there are certain differences owing to the individual characteristics of the republics. These differences, however, are not very significant; thus, in the present article, the basic reference used in describing legal enactments in the area of drug addiction and narcotics control is the Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), and it should be kept in mind that there are analogous articles in the criminal codes of the union republics.

Questions relating to drug addiction and narcotic drugs are reflected in the Criminal Code of the RSFSR. For example, article 224 reads as follows:

"The illegal manufacture, acquisition, storage, transport or dispatch of narcotic drugs for the purpose of sale, as well as their illegal sale, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to 10 years, with or without confiscation of property.

"The same acts, when committed for a second time, or on the basis of a prior conspiracy by a group of persons, or by a person who has previously committed one of the offences provided for in ... the present Code, or by a particularly dangerous recidivist, and also when they involve narcotic drugs in large quantittes, are punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from six to 15 years, with confiscation of property.

"The illegal manufacture, acquisition, storage, transport or dispatch of narcotic drugs without the intention of sale is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to three years or by correctional labour for a period of up to one year.

"The same acts, when committed for a second time or by a person who has previously committed one of the offences provided for in ... this article and in ... the present Code, are punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to five years.

"A violation of the established rules governing the production, acquisition, storage, recording, release, transport or dispatch of narcotic drugs is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to three years or by correctional labour for a period of up to one year, with or without loss of the right to hold specified offices or to engage in specified activities."

The problem of theft involving narcotic drugs is fully dealt with in article 224 1, in which it is stated:

"The theft of narcotic drugs is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to five years, with or without confiscation of property.

"The same acts, when committed for a second time, or on the basis of a prior conspiracy by a group of persons, or with the use of violence presenting no danger to life or health, or by a person to whom these drugs were entrusted in connection with his official position or were given to guard, and also by a person who has previously committed one of the offences provided for in ... the present Code, are punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from three to 10 years, with or without confiscation of property, and with or without loss of the right to hold specified offices or to engage in specified activities.

"The theft of narcotic drugs committed by particularly dangerous recidivists or by means of a robbery involving violence, and also the theft of narcotic drugs in large quantities, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from seven to 15 years, with confiscation of property."

Article 225 deals specifically with the illegal sowing or growing of crops that contain narcotic substances and whose cultivation is prohibited:

"The sowing or growing of the opium poppy, of Indian, South Manchurian or South Chuya cannabis or of any other crops that contain narcotic substances and whose cultivation is prohibited is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to five years. ,

"The same acts, when committed for a second time or by a person who has previously committed one of the offences provided for in ... the present Code, are punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from three to eight years."

When discussing illegal trafficking in narcotic and psychotropic substances, it is important to note that involvement in contraband is considered a state crime. What constitutes criminal responsibility for contraband in the USSR is laid down in article 15 of a law enacted on 25 December 1958, which reads as follows:

"Contraband, i.e. the illegal movement of goods or other valuables across a border of the USSR, effected by concealing the articles in special containers, or through the fraudulent use of customs or other documents, or in large quantities, or by a group of persons organized in order to engage in contraband, or by an official taking advantage of ... official position, and also contraband in explosive, narcotic or poisonous substances, arms or military equipment, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from three to 10 years, with confiscation of property, and with or without exile for a period of from two to five years".

More recent legislation

In 1981, an Ordinance of the Council of Ministers banned narcotic and psychotropic substances and paraphernalia for smoking opium and hashish.*

Among the more recent legislation is article 224 2, which reads as follows:

"Inducement to the consumption of narcotic drugs is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to five years.

"The same act, when committed in respect of two or more persons or a minor, or by a person previously convicted of inducement to the consumption of narcotic drugs, or by a person who has previously committed one of the offences provided for ... the present Code, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to 10 years."

The involvement of a minor in the consumption of narcotic drugs is an act that poses a particular danger to society; therefore, from the point of view of prevention, the severe measures of punishment provided for in this article are altogether justified.

Article 226 1 deals with the establishment or keeping of dens for the consumption of narcotic drugs:

"Establishing or keeping dens for the consumption of narcotic drugs, or making available premises for this purpose, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of from five to 10 years, with or without confiscation of property."

There are occasional instances involving the abuse. of substances not recognized as narcotic drugs. It is important that persons involved in the illicit trafficking of these substances should be indicted without delay. Articles of the criminal code that are concerned with narcotic drugs cannot be used against such persons. Because these substances, which are occasionally the object of illicit trafficking, are usually classified as dangerous or poisonous, special articles dealing with them in the criminal codes of the union republics provide the possibility of administering the appropriate punishment to the criminal elements involved. Thus, according to article 226 2:

"The illegal production, acquisition, storage, transport or dispatch for the purpose of sale, and also the illegal sale, of dangerous or poisonous substances that are not narcotic drugs is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to three years or by correctional labour for a period of up to one year, with confiscation of the . . . substances.

*When necessary, the items may be imported on the basis of special permits issued by the Standing Committee on Narcotic Drugs Control.

"A violation of the established rules governing ... [these] substances ... is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to two years, correctional labour for a period of up to one year, or a fine of up to 100 roubles."

In amending and supplementing a number of articles of its decree on drug addition, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, in its Decree No. 7226-XI of 22 June 1987, stated:

"The sowing or growing of the opium poppy or of Indian, South Manchurian, South Chuya, South Arkhon or South Krasnodar cannabis ... is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to five years.

In the same Decree, an additional provision was introduced under which the illegal acquisition or storage, without the intention of sale, of narcotic drugs "in small @quantities" shall "result in an administrative penalty" in the form of a fine of up to 100 roubles or in the form- of correctional labour for a period of from one to two months with the retention of 20 per cent of wages. Moreover, "the same act, when committed for a second time within a year following the imposition of an administrative penalty for the same offence, and also for the acts provided for in ... the present Decree, is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to two years, correctional labour for the same period, or a fine of up to 300 roubles."

There has also been a change in the procedure with regard to the measures applied to persons who consume narcotic drugs without a physician's prescription:

"The consumption of narcotic drugs without a physician's pre- scription shall result in an administrative penalty in the form of a fine of up to 100 roubles, or in the form of correctional labour for a period of from one to two months with retention of 20 per cent of wages ...

"The, same act, when committed for a second time within a year following the imposition of an administrative penalty for the same offence, ... is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to two years, correctional labour for the same period, or a fine of up to 300 roubles."

The following new provisions are important from the point of view of prevention:

"A person who has voluntarily surrendered narcotic drugs is exonerated from administrative and criminal responsibility for the acquisition of the narcotic drugs surrendered and for their storage, transport and dispatch.

"...

"A person who has voluntarily sought medical assistance at a medical institution in connection with the consumption of narcotic drugs for non- medical purposes is exonerated from ... administrative and criminal responsibility ..."

The growing of other poppy varieties, such as the oil poppy for the recovery of its oil and the use of its seeds in confectionery items, or of decorative poppy varieties, as well as the sowing of the cannabis varieties that grow in the USSR for the recovery of vegetable oil, their seeds (for confectionery purposes) and hemp, did not require special permission. Considering, however, the fact that in recent years these poppy and cannabis varieties have begun to be used for the illegal manufacture of home-made preparations, for trading in these preparations and for illegal consumption by drug addicts, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, in its Decree No. 7226-XI of 22 June 1987, introduced an additional provision:

"The illegal sowing or growing of the oil poppy, and also of cannabis, with the exception of the varieties named in ... article 3 of the present Decree, shall result in an administrative penalty in the form of awarning or fine of from 20 to 100 roubles.

"The same act, when committed for a second time within a year,. . . is punishable by a loss of freedom for a period of up to three years or by correctional labour for a period of up to two years . . . "

On 12 June 1987, the Council of Ministers, in its Ordinance No. 695, also took note of the spreading practice of citizens manufacturing narcotic drugs from the oil poppy, which they grow in their personal plots or on other parcels of land. There are instances of citizens obtaining the raw material for the manufacture of narcotic drugs from oil-poppy fields on collective and state farms and in other agricultural enterprises and organizations.

For the purpose of stepping up the campaign against drug addiction, and taking into account the fact that the oil poppy is one of the sources from which narcotic drugs are obtained, this Ordinance stipulated that the sowing and growing of the oil poppy by citizens is prohibited and that the executive committees of the local councils of people's deputies are to monitor the implementation of this prohibition, and that of resolutions on the general ban on the sowing of cannabis on the personal plots of collective farm members, workers and office employees and on other parcels of land for personal use. It also stipulates that farm directors are required to take measures to ensure the appropriate protection of growing areas planted with narcotics-containing crops and raw materials and to ensure the destruction of the stubble and waste matter left over from these plants and raw materials.

According to article 4 of the Soviet Constitution:

"The safeguarding of public health is an obligation on the part of all state agencies, enterprises, institutions and organizations. The authority and competence of these ... with respect to the safeguarding of public health are determined by the legislation of the Soviet Union and of the union republics.

"...

"Citizens of the USSR must show a solicitous attitude towards their own health and the health of other members of society."

According to article 36 of the Constitution, public health authorities are required to carry out special measures for the prevention and treatment of "diseases representing a danger to the community [including drug addiction]".

In its Decree No. 7226-XI of 22 June 1987, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet adopted the following new wording for the article on persons suffering from drug addiction, requiring them to undergo treatment at the treatment and preventive institutions of the public health authorities:

"Persons who on the basis of sufficient data may be assumed to be consuming narcotic drugs for non-medical purposes are required to undergo an official medical examination in the established manner. In the event of a refusal by such persons to undergo this examination, they may be compulsorily hospitalized for a period of not more than 10 days in order that they may be examined in the manner required - . . "

"Persons who are suffering from drug addiction and who evade treatment are subject to remand, on the orders of a district (municipal) people's court, to -closed compulsory treatment-and-rehabilitation centres* for compulsory treatment for a period of from six months to two years. . . "

On the basis of this provision, corresponding articles on the compulsory treatment of drug addicts can be found in all the criminal codes of the union republics. According to article 62 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and the corresponding articles of the criminal codes of the union republics:

"In the event that an offence is committed by an alcoholic or drug addict, and if an expert medical opinion has been obtained, the court may, upon application by a public organization, worker collective, peer tribunal or public health agency, or on its own initiative, in addition to imposing a punishment for the offence committed, order the offender to undergo compulsory treatment.

"Such persons, if sentenced to non-custodial sanctions, are subject to compulsory treatment at medical institutions with a special r6gime of treatment and work. . . ."

"...

"In the event that an offence is committed by a person who abuses alcoholic beverages or narcotic drugs and, the abuse has placed that person's family in a situation of material hardship, the court has the right ... to recognize the offender as having only limited capacity. On the basis of the court's sentence, this person is then placed under guardianship."

In accordance with this article, the Correctional Labour Code of the RSFSR of I January 1979 and the corresponding correctional labour codes of the union republics include a special article, article 58, entitled "Compulsory treatment of alcoholics and drug addicts deprived of freedom", which reads as follows:

,, Persons who have been deprived of freedom and for whom the court ... has ordered compulsory treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction are subject to such treatment at their places of confinement ...

*Closed establishments (clinics) providing compulsory treatment and "labour re-education" for persons who are suffering from chronic alcoholism or drug addiction and whose condition poses a threat to their own health and safety and to the safety of others.

"if it is discovered that a convicted person serving a custodial sentence is an alcoholic or drug addict, the administration of the correctional labour institution shall apply to the court to have that person undergo compulsory treatment.

"If the convicted person's treatment has not been completed by the time that person is released from confinement, . . . the administration of the correctional labour institution shall apply to the court to have that person's compulsory treatment continued at a medical, institution with a special r6gime of treatment and work."

These laws and other legal enactments make it possible to provide the necessary treatment and preventive care to persons suffering from drug addiction and to implement effectively the obligations of the USSR under article 38 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961:

"1. The Parties shall give special attention to the provision of facilities for the medical treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

"2. If a Party has a serious problem of drug addiction and its economic resources permit, it is desirable that it establish adequate facilities for the effective treatment of drug addicts" [1] .

In accordance with article 39 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, as, amended by the 1972 Protocol, Amending that Convention [2] , and article 23 of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 [3] , measures provided for in all statutory instruments concerned with the control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and the prevention of their abuse are stricter than those provided by the Conventions. Dangerous psychotropic substances are included in schedules of narcotic -drugs and, accordingly, the legal enactments regarding narcotic drugs apply to psychotropic substances as well.

The broader spectrum of treatment-related measures available, together with the possibility of ordering compulsory in-patient treatment, also goes far beyond the requirements of the conventions. The United Nations Convention against Illicit Trafic in Narcotic Drugs [4] provides for measures for the control of narcotic drugs, including those relating to criminal sanctions for violations of established procedures for the manufacture, storage and sale of those substances.

The consideration of aggravating circumstances in judging drug-related offences and the confiscation of property of persons engaged in illicit traffic have, for a long time, been a part of Soviet legislation and have been successfully applied. This is another example of Soviet legislation being more advanced than existing international conventions.

Considering the fact that, in its Decree No. 7226-XI of 22 June 1987, the Supreme Soviet introduced a new principle linking a drug-related penalty to the presence of "small" or "large" amounts, the Standing Committee on Narcotic Drugs Control, established under the Ministry of Public Health, also issues recommendations on the amounts that may be considered "small" or "large".

In its ruling No. 12 of 24 December 1987, the Supreme Court of the USSR pointed out:

"In deciding ... whether there has been an act involving the theft of narcotic drugs in large amounts or involving their sale, illegal manufacture, acquisition, storage, transport or dispatch for the purpose of sale, and also the illegal acquisition or storage of narcotic drugs in small amounts without the purpose of sale, the courts must be guided not only by the quantity involved . . . , but also by the properties of the different varieties of narcotic drugs in terms of the degree to which they affect the human organism, it being necessary, in this connection, to take into account the recommendations devised by the Standing Committee on Narcotics Drugs Control ..."

In the same ruling, the Supreme Court noted:

"In view of the fact that special knowledge is required in order to determine the kind of agent or substance involved ..., together with its designation and properties, and in order to establish whether specific plants are among those that contain narcotic substances, the courts must, when hearing these cases, have recourse to the opinions of experts ..."

The competence of the Standing Committee has been recognized at a high level as extending to these questions as well. Since it came into existence, the Standing Committee has maintained systematic records and files covering all relevant conventions and sessions of the United Nations, as well as related legislation enacted in different countries.

In accordance with an order of the Ministry of Public Health, everywhere in the USSR the term "drug addiction" is used to designate the state of illness brought about by the consumption of narcotic drugs. Such standardization of terminology facilitates the acquisition of accurate statistical data throughout the country on the primary registration of persons suffering from one or another form of drug addiction.

It is difficult to cover in a short article all aspects of the legal regulation of the problems involved in combating the illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and their abuse. The information provided in this paper, however, should acquaint specialists with the basic provisions in this area.

References

01

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.62.Xl.l).

02

Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.77.XI.3).

03

Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.78.XI.3).

04

"United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances" (E/CONF.82/15).