Legislation

The use of illegal drugs involves many long- and short-term risks. Do not endanger your health: do not use illegal drugs! 
If, however, you do in fact use illegal drugs, it is advisable to be supported or accompanied by some other person who can call the emergency services in the case of sudden severe illness.

Complexity of the legislation

Belgian law concerning drugs is based on the Framework Act of 24 February 1921 (only in French and Dutch) the purpose of which is to:

  • prevent the production, possession and sale of illicit drugs
  • combat the trafficking of illicit drugs.

This Framework Act has been amended by numerous Royal Decrees, among which those of 1930 and 1998 which contain a list of names of substances which must be controlled. These substances are the so-called “illicit” drugs. Any substance not mentioned in this list is not controlled.

DID YOU KNOW? The possession, purchase, sale, growing and marketing of psychoactive substances are forbidden by law. There is at the moment no policy to depenalise or legalise certain drugs in Belgium.

New psychoactive substances (NPSs)

NPSs, also called “legal highs”, are synthetic drugs.The chemical structure of controlled and illegal drugs is changed to create new products.

The speed with which these new substances appear on the market makes it impossible for the lawmakers to keep up with them. Therefore, they are not yet on the list of named drugs (only in French and  Dutch) which are forbidden and controlled by the law.

Because they have not yet been made illegal, NSP circulate freely on the market. Consequently, the unlicensed use and production of NPSs is not illegal. NPSs are often sold on the Internet and can cause acute poisoning (overdose), which is sometimes fatal.

To deal with the invasion of the market by NPSs, the Act of 7 February 2014 provides for:

  • a ban on substances with a chemical structure similar to that of regulated substances 
  • attach a penalty toall preparatory activities to production
  • attach a penalty to trafficking in illicit substances and the immediate destruction of materials and substances seized by the police or customs.

Since 2005, the EU countries have notified over 450 NPSs through an European Early Warning System (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction).

The particular case of cannabis

Cannabis is the illegal drug which is most used in Belgium and is specially regulated. The possession of cannabis is still illegal, but the public authorities can decide not to prosecute for possessing it:

  • for personal use
  • if the quantity is not greater than 3 grams
  • if the person is an adult
  • or there is no question of a problematic use or public nuisance (drug use in prison, at school, in public places, etc.).

 

Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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