In Hungary, the purchase, consumption, and possession of illegal drugs are all criminal offences. Note that even if the use of a particular drug is not a criminal offence in your country, you are still obliged to comply with Hungarian law, and will be held accountable to the same standards as a local person. This leaflet aims to give you a brief overview of what you need to know about the regulation of illegal drugs in Hungary.
What are the illegal drugs?
The most common illegal drugs are marijuana, hash, ecstasy, amphetamines, cocaine, ketamine, opiates, heroin, magic mushroom and LSD. The consumption or possession of any of these substances is punishable by 2 years' imprisonment. On top of these well known substances there is a new range of new psychoactive substances (so-called “legal highs”). These are typically sold in smart shops and have a similar chemical structure and effects to classic illegal drugs. To keep up with the rapidly changing market, the government introduced a temporary list of new psychoactive substances, which includes all the illegal designer drugs. Distribution of these substances is a criminal offence punishable by up to 3 years' imprisonment, possession for personal use is an administrative offence punishable by a fine.
What are the consequences if I am caught by the police?
Hungarian drug laws are pretty harsh by European standards: For the possession or consumption of a small amount of drugs, you can be jailed for up to two years (see more about what counts as marginal amount below). However this is very rarely enforced; and if it is the first time you have been caught, you can avoid court procedure by attending a 6 months consultation program. If you are caught for a second time within two years, this option is not available. Note that it is a grey area of the law, whether you can participate in the consultation abroad or you must come back to Hungary, it depends on the prosecutor.
What constitutes a 'small' amount?
It depends on the drug. However, for all drugs, the police will measure the weight of the pure psychoactive ingredient in your sample and the definition of what is a ‘small amount’ is defined in terms of the weight of the active pure substance. The drugs seized by the police are always tested by a foregnsic laboratory to see how much pure substance it contains. So depending on the purity of your drug the same ‘street amount’ could be classified as small amount or not. In the table below you can find what counts as small and also the corresponding street weight, given the typical purity of samples confiscated by the police. If you are found to have distributed a small amount ofi llicit drugs, you are liable to up to 2 years' imprisonment; if it is bigger than a small amount, the punishment can be up to 20 years' imprisonment.
Upper limit of small amount of pure substance
Approximate upper limits of small amount in street samples
6g (total THC)
~ 60g (with 10% purity)
~ 5g (with 10% purity)
~ 10g (with 20% purity)
~ 3g (with18% purity)
~ 1,6g (with 60% purity)
What can the police do?
The police can ask for your ID at any time. If there is something suspicious about you, then the police can legally search your clothes, your baggage and your vehicle. Unfortunately, there is no clear definition for what counts as suspicious: In practice, simple physical signs such as red eyes, or a higher than normal pulse-rate can be considered to be suspicious. If the police find drugs or items associated with drug usage on you - like a syringe - this initiates a legal process, during which you will be taken to a police station, where your statement will be taken and you are obliged to provide a urine or blood sample which will later be analysed by a laboratory. Typically, amphetamines leave a trace in your blood for 2-5 days. You have the right to remain silent and leave the police station without making an official statement, you are not obliged to tell the true but you cannot make false accusations against others. It is important to note that if you state how much of a drug you have used in the past, this can be added to the amount found in your possession. Such 'totting-up' following an admission on your part, can easily take you over the small amount, depriving you of the 'diversion option'. Such a confession is therefore inadvisable.
If you get in trouble with the Hungarian police because of your drug use and you have further questions, please consult the legal clinic of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Please visit our English website: drugreporter.net
Posted by Balázs Szigeti and Peter Sarosi