EU-bound Croatia decided on Friday to decriminalise drugs possession, introducing fines instead of jail terms for users caught with small amounts for personal use.
Under amendments to the country's penal code, possession of drugs for personal use will no longer be a criminal offence.
“Now youngsters caught in a park with a joint will not go to prison, but pay a fine,” Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic told lawmakers.
From January 1, those found in possession of drugs can be fined up to 2 680 euros ($3 503), be sent for rehabilitation or ordered to do community service.
Previously, anyone convicted of drugs possession could be sentenced to up to three years in jail.
Under the new law, however, stricter penalties of up to 15 years in jail will be handed down to those convicted of drug dealing, especially if caught near schools.
Croatia will become the 28th member of the European Union next July. - AFP