Criminal Penalties for Possession in Ukraine

"In September 2010, a new Concept of Drug Policy through 2015 was introduced that does not stipulate any measures for drug treatment. One month later, the government amended the drug laws and criminalized possession of extremely low amounts of narcotic substances—for example, for “acetylated opium” (0.005 grams vs. 0.1 grams in wording previously used), “opium” (0.1 grams vs. 0.5 grams), “acetic anhydride” (2 grams vs. 250 grams), “norefedrine” (0.3 grams vs. 0.3 kilograms) “ephedrine” and “pseudo-ephedrine” (0.6 grams vs. 30 grams).
"Judicial practice in Ukraine proves that in certain cases even traces of these drugs in a used syringe may be enough to bring a person to criminal liability under p. 309 or p. 311 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which could lead to up to three years of imprisonment. As many of those substances, especially acetylated opiate, are commonly used in Ukraine by people who inject drugs, this amendment virtually makes drug dependence equivalent to being a criminal.
"In September 2011, the District Administrative Court in Kyiv, Ukraine dismissed a claim filed by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine to invalidate provisions of the Ministry of Health’s order approving such low thresholds. According to Alliance court papers, the provisions have greatly impeded HIV prevention efforts among people who inject drugs. The organization observed that since the change, the amount of needles collected though NSPs had decreased due to fear of criminal prosecution for illegal drug possession, thus raising the likelihood of a surge in new HIV cases in the country71. The court’s decision was based on its reasoning that since drug use is classified as an illegal action, drug users who choose to commit the crime should be held accountable72."


Merkinaite, S. "A war against people who use drugs: the costs" (Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN): Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012), pp. 23-24.