Dose of Tolerance


What does it say about America when even Russia has a more enlightened drug policy? As of Wednesday, the country's notoriously tough-on-drugs government has eliminated criminal penalties for possessing small quantities of illegal intoxicants. "Under the old law," the Drug War Chronicle reports, "possession of even a single marijuana cigarette could garner a three-year prison sentence." Now possessing up to 10 times the "average single dose" of an illegal drug will be treated as an "administrative infraction," punishable by a fine. According to the Drug War Chronicle, the amounts for that category are as follows:

heroin: 1 gram
cocaine: 1.5 grams
marijuana: 20 grams (dried)
hashish: 5 grams
ecstasy: 0.5 gram
methamphetamine: 0.5 gram
mescaline: 0.5 gram
LSD: 0.003 gram
psilocybin: 0.005 gram

People with between 10 and 50 doses will be subject to larger fines and community service, but not jail time–as long as they're not caught selling the drug. Meanwhile, penalties for drug sales were raised, perpetuating the widespread but puzzling practice of treating people who actually use drugs less harshly than the people who merely help them do so. Still, eliminating the possibility of jail time for users of all these drugs is a big deal, going further than any U.S. state (even those that have "decriminalized" marijuana possession).