Most derived from WHO Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence and one EMCDDA document
Use of these drugs substances is defined into 3 categories according to their sociolegal status. First, many of the substances are used as medications. Western and other systems of medicine have long recognized the usefulness of these substances as medications in relieving pain, promoting either sleep or wakefulness and relieving mood disorders. Currently, most psychoactive medications are restricted to use under a doctor’s orders, through a prescription system and as much as one-third of all prescriptions written are for such psychotropic medications.
A second category of use is illegal, or illicit, use. Under 3 international conventions, most nations have bound themselves to outlaw trade in and non-medical use of opiates, cannabis, hallucinogens, cocaine and many other stimulants, and many hypnotics and sedatives. In addition to this list, countries or local jurisdictions often add their own prohibited substances, e.g. alcoholic beverages and various inhalants.
Third category of use is legal, or licit consumption whatever purpose the consumer chooses. These purposes may vary and are not necessarily connected with the psychoactive properties of the substance.
Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 recognizes that effective measures against abuse of narcotic drugs require coordinated and international action: to limit the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes and: to combats drug trafficking through international cooperation.
Convention on Psychotropic Substances: concern the public health and social problemsresulting from the abuse of certain psychotropic substances; to prevent and combat abuse of such substances and the illicit traffic including an international control system for psychotropic. substances
United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988: sets out a comprehensive, effective and operative international treaty that was directed specifically against illicit traffic.
The substances which are included in the international conventions reflect historical understandings in particular cultural settings about what should be viewed as uniquely dangerous or alien. Some psychopharmacologists or epidemiologists today, for instance, would argue that alcohol is inherently no less dangerous or harmful than the drugs included in the international conventions. Moreover, as discussed below, dependence on nicotine in tobacco is associated with more death and ill-health than dependence on other psychoactive substances.
At the reverse national legal frameworks introduce discrimination between soft and hard drugs in the intent to develop drugs harms reduction, consider better noxiousness variety of drugs or take into account social and cultural dimensions that may make from one country to other more complicated the enforcement that also have to take into account cost-benefit and cost effectiveness of legal, repressive structures and social tolerance considering social habits, health risks and risky behaviors that go farde simple scope of illicit drugs consumption.
Signatory countries of UN conventions are obliged to address the illegal possession of drugs for personal use, but retain their individual freedom to decide on the exact policies to be adopted. In framing their national laws, European Union Member States have interpreted and applied this freedom taking their own characteristics, culture and priorities into account, while maintaining a prohibitive stance. The result is a variety of approaches Europe-wide to illicit personal use of drugs and its preparatory acts of possession and acquisition. Yet, when comparing law with actual practice, national positions within the Europe seem less divergent than might be expected. In many countries, judicial and administrative authorities increasingly seek opportunities to discharge offenders, or, failing that, arrangements that stop short of severe criminal punishment, such as fines, suspension of a driving licence, etc.
Being marijuana-cannabis at the border of tolerance and intolerance to landmark that the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) elevated the control on narcotic substances and on cannabis to a global level. Under the system introduced in 1961 (imported from previous treaties) cannabis is to be considered still as one of the most dangerous existing drugs. But in 2003 a WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended the rescheduling of dronabinol (THC, the main active principle of cannabis), to Schedule IV of the 1971 Convention. This would mean that the active principle of cannabis would be moved from a schedule where substances have very limited, if any, therapeutic usefulness and their abuse constitutes an especially serious risk to public health, to a schedule where substances have some therapeutic usefulness with a smaller (but still significant) risk to public health due to their liability of abuse.
Nevertheless, data show that police action against drug users is rising — possibly due to greater drug prevalence — and varies both within and between countries. Moreover, some cases of illicit personal use of drugs do continue to reach the courts and prison sentences are still given, especially to repeat offenders. Such inconsistencies in applying the law can confuse the public and affect the credibility of the legal system relating to personal drug use.
Most likely outcomes in prosecuting "possession of drugs for personal use": 1) Prosecution & conviction, followed by prison, fines or therapeutic measures; 2) Discharge or diversion leading to reduction of charges; 3) Discharge or diversion to alternative measures at prosecution (by law, directives, guidelines); 4) Administrative sanctions or therapeutic measures (decriminalisation by law).
Sort of European Recommandations sees, according EMCDDA agency, that the basis of future policy considerations observes that: 1) The underlying philosophy of the 1988 UN Convention, and its requirement to characterise possession of drugs for personal use as a criminal offence, relates more to strengthening the fight against international drug trafficking than to criminalising drug users. 2) While drug laws vary across the EU, there is a recent trend by Member States to attempt to bring the law into line with police and prosecution practices. This serves to strengthen the credibility of the law. 3) Effective police action in the field of drugs needs to be targeted primarily at the most harmful situations of drug-related crime. 4) In the case of drug use or possession, most Member States have implemented mechanisms to divert a high proportion of arrested users away from criminal punishment. 5) Where an arrested user is drug dependent, research indicates that diversion into treatment can produce significant health, social and crime-reduction benefits. 6) Close cooperation between justice and health agencies is recommended to ensure the effective management of diversion initiatives.