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Spain replaces drug consumption and possession fines with “re-education activities”

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The six Spanish parliamentary groups (PSOE, Unidas Podemos, PNV, ERC, Junts and EH Bildu) reached an agreement to reform the Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana (Citizen Security Law), better known as the “Gag Law”. The consumption and/or possession of drugs on public roads in Spain will no longer be punished with fines, which will be replaced by re-education activities — something that, until now, only applied to minors.

to remember that Spain is the European country with the highest number of occurrences related to drug consumption and/or possession across Europe, accounting for 43% of them at European level, according to the latest report of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). However, thanks to the new agreement reached by the Spanish parties on 20 September, the fines imposed by the Citizen Security Law for the “planting, cultivation, consumption or illicit possession of toxic drugs, narcotics or psychotropic substances” in public places, when they do not constitute a crime, can be replaced by a “treatment and rehabilitation programme”.

Reeducate instead of punishing

The solution is somewhat similar to what already happens in Portugal under the decriminalization of drug consumption and possession, within certain limits, where in most cases the defendants end up being redirected to the Commissions for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction (CDT) .

Currently, the “Gag Law” classifies consumption and possession as a serious administrative infraction “even if they are not intended for trafficking, in places, roads, public establishments or public transport, as well as the abandonment of instruments or other utensils used for this purpose”. in the aforementioned locations”. This implies the payment of a fine that can range from 601 to 30 thousand euros. Only if the offender was a minor could this fine be replaced by re-education activities.

The new agreement intends that this measure, the replacement of fines by re-education activities, be extended to all offenders, regardless of their age. However, it does safeguard that if these re-education activities are not carried out, the fine will have to be paid.

Reduce the amount of fines

Another of the reforms that the new agreement intends to rectify is linked to the article that defines the value of fines, namely in the parameters that will be taken into account for this purpose. Currently, the law only specifies that “the offender's economic capacity” will be taken into account when defining the amount to be paid.

However, the new agreement proposes to establish and reduce the value of the fines of the “Gag Law” by 50%, if the defendant earns less than 1,5 times the Spanish minimum wage, currently set at 14 installments of €1.000, something that it was only possible if the payment was made voluntarily. If the offender receives between 1,5 and 2,5 times the minimum wage, the fine may be reduced by up to 25%, under the new agreement.

This new agreement between the 6 Spanish political parties represents an advance in the negotiations regarding the reform of the “Gag Law”, which have been much slower than expected. For this same reason, the parties, PSOE, Unidas Podemos, PNV, ERC, Junts and EH Bildu, also decided to hold more meetings, in order to resolve all the points still open. The objective is to finalize the reform proposal, to be presented before the Spanish parliament and confront the opposition made by the right-wing parties.

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