The Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania art. 259 part 2 Compliance with the Requirements of the Ultima Ratio Principle

  • Petras Varkalys
Keywords: Criminal law, criminal liability, narcotic and psychotropic substances, proportionality principle, proportionality, possession, harm reduction, harm prevention, administrative liability.


The aim of this Article is to analyse whether imposing criminal liability for possessing small quantities of narcotic or psychotropic substances for personal use complies with the requirements of the proportionality principle. The study was conducted through document and doctrine analysis, comparison, systemic-linguistic and statistical analysis methods.

Several aspects determine the relevance and problems of the research. Firstly, since the beginning of XXI century some of European Union member states and some other countries started to decriminalize possession of narcotics for personal use due to questionable harm of some types of narcotics’ and negative outcome of criminal law application for illegal possession and use. Secondly, until 2017, administrative and criminal liabilities for possession of drugs for personal use were applied in Lithuania. In 2017 administrative liability was abolished and now only criminal liability can be imposed. The fact that pre 2017 administrative liability was imposed based on the ultima ratio and the proportionality principles, suggested that in some cases application of criminal liability could be disproportionate.  

The results revealed that: (1) Imposing criminal liability is not necessary and not  proportionate to severity and damage caused by possessing a small amount of narcotics for personal use; (2) In Portugal and Czech Republic positive results in drug demand and drug harm reduction, such as decrease in drug use prevalence, decreased death rates and reduced new HIV and AIDS cases related to drug use, have been reached by applying administrative liability alongside with the measures of harm reduction; (3) It is possible to reduce drug possession cases and harm related to it though administrative liability, alongside application of systemic harm reduction measures.

The principal conclusion of the thesis is that criminal liability for possessing small quantities of narcotic of psychotropic substances for personal use doesn’t comply with the requirements of the proportionality principle.