Impact Analysis Project of New Drugs Legislation in the Czech Republic
In 1997, after several proposals related to the amendments to drugs legislation raised by the Members of Parliament of the Czech Republic,1 the Government of the Czech Republic put forward a proposal of amendment to the drugs legislation (Sections 187 to 188a of the Criminal Code). The proposal consisted of an amendment that the Department of Justice of the Czech Republic had been preparing for a long time as a sponsor of the legislative process, completed by the Department of the Interior of the Czech Republic with provisions that introduced a penalty for possession of drugs for personal use.
In the course of the readings of the amendments in Parliament and in the public sphere, this provision appeared as the most controversial one. It brought about a brisk discussion of the consequences of criminalizing drug possession for personal use in connection with treatment care and drug users, police work, and impact on primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Last but not least, the issue of increasing the level of "legal nihilism" in society was widely discussed.
Vaclav Havel's veto of this bill, issued on April 5, 1998, was a reflection of the clear-cut discussions. The President returned the bill for further readings to the Chamber of Deputies, and the Chamber of Deputies then carried the bill without any changes at all.
In an attempt to prevent possible negative phenomena following from the implementation of the amendments in question, the Government of the Czech Republic issued an assignment to the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic and asked it to draw up an analysis of possible negative impacts of the amendments with a proposal for solution of the possible problems. The material was published as "Analysis of Negative Impacts of Amendments of the Criminal Code (Drug-Related Crimes) With Proposals of Action". Minister Otakar Motejl presented the analysis, which was subsequently passed by the Government on August 27, 1998. At the same time, the National Drug Commission of the Government of the Czech Republic adopted the intention to carry out a scientific evaluation of the impacts of the enacted legislative intervention. On December 7, 1998, the National Drug Commission of the Government of the Czech Republic acknowledged the intention to carry out the Impact Analysis Project (PAD) of the New Drugs Legislation in the Czech Republic with a focus on the introduction of a penalty for possession of illicit drugs for personal use; a framework research plan was also acknowledged.
On March 30, 1999, the National Drug Commission of the Government of the Czech Republic approved the allocation of resources for the pursuit of the study in 1999 and adopted a formal guarantee over the project. On March 10, 2000, the National Drug Commission of the Government of the Czech Republic approved the plan for completion of the project and earmarked funds for this purpose.
ResAd with its CEO and Chief Scientist Tomas Zabransky was in charge of preparation of the study, elaboration of the methodology and conducting the whole research project. The School of Criminal Justice, Florida State University, agreed to provide scientific supervision of the project and offered experts from the fields of the economic and social sciences (Prof. David W. Rassmussen et al., Prof. Bruce Bullington et al.). The National Drug Commission of the Government of the Czech Republic delegated the PAD Board to provide for procedural supervision of the study and actively facilitate data acquisition in all related fields.
Works in 1999 focused on preparation of methodology, identification of existing and missing data, establishment of mechanisms of detection and verification of the data, establishment of the research team and training of the team with participation of the supervisors.
In 2000, the PAD Board approved summary research methodologies and all main sub-studies and individual components of the sub-studies were initiated. Three supervision acts of Florida State University led to several adjustments of the research design, later implemented in the project with the approval of the PAD Board. In 2001, the works mainly focused on completion of all five main sub-studies and more than twenty subparts, completion of acquisition of some hard-to-obtain quantitative data for the purposes of a prevalence estimate (mainly from the databases of the Hygiene Service of the Czech Republic and Police of the Czech Republic), analytical works on the qualitative part of the study and synthesis of results together with preparation of the summary in print and preparation of publications.