"In Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and the UK, the penalty for a drugs offence officially varies according to the nature of the substance involved. Thus the law in those 13 countries instructs or requests the judicial authorities to distinguish between drugs when prosecuting. Of these 13 countries, in Malta the penalty is only varied for a charge of drug trafficking, whereas in Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland and Luxembourg it is only different for the offence of possession of (a small amount of) cannabis for personal use.
"In the remaining 14 EU Member States, Croatia and Norway, the law officially does not recognise differences between drugs, and drugs offences may incur the same penalty regardless of the substances involved. However, there is a discrepancy between the formal legal texts and actual practice; the judicial authorities do consider the nature of the substances (as well as the quantity and other determining factors) when sentencing, either using their discretionary power or by applying circulars or directives.
Note: A list of the "Main laws and lists of substances (with examples) can be found at:
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction, Classification of Controlled Drugs, from the web at
last accessed Dec. 4, 2012.