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Saturday 18.11.2017 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs
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Riga City Council is powerless against “legal drug” dealers

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUFor years Latvia’s Saeima and ministries have been trying to amend laws to banish the so-called “legal drug” dealers out of the market. But all seems in vain. One year ago, there were 20 locations where “legal drugs” could be bought in Riga. Since then the number of such locations throughout the capital has doubled. On top of that, “legal drugs” are being sold on locations that belong to Riga municipal government.

Jezusbaznicas street. On one side of the building there is a store that sells children’s items, on the other – packets containing green dried substances. The building is municipal property. Deglavas street 151 – municipal property. There is a small window on the side of the street. Police promises to investigate the possible drug trade location, but “legal drug” trade continues there. It also continues in a building that is located near a school on Barona street 90. Considering how powerless the police are in shutting down this trade, different groups of people gather on internet portals to discuss the means they can employ to shut down kiosks for good (burn down, demolish, etc.), TV3 programme Nekā personīga (Nothing personal).

Following this kind of social feedback, police officers rigorously search for any violation they can find in order to punish them.

Most traders are newly-founded micro-enterprises with LVL 1 of capital. When a firm has too many penalties imposed by the police, it is usually closed. The location then changes hands and a new micro-enterprise takes its place.

Every new owner has different names for the products he sells. Incense, water pipes, detergent, air freshener. “Cactus fertilizer” is sold in a small kiosk right outside Gailezers hospital. The hospital’s head says he knows nothing of this strange kiosk. This is not his business – the territory belong to the city, not the hospital. City authorities cannot close it down because trade is performed legally. If there are no violations, there is no reason to terminate the contract with owners of the kiosk regarding land lease.

City authorities have asked the police to perform regular patrolling of the area near the kiosk and interfere with trade there. However, this does not stop “regular clients”. Even during police inspections, such people knock on the door every couple of minutes.

Nothing personal reporters had participated in one such operation. Officers had confiscated 150 packets of suspicious substances. This is much more than the police had managed to confiscate the last couple of times. The reason for the sudden police raid was that packets did not have tags written in Latvian language. If laboratory tests show no concentration of harmful substances, the police will be required by law to return everything to the trader.

One day before the raid, Saeima had amended the law that allows police officers to confiscate any mixtures that contain substances that are included on the list of harmful substances used by the European Early Warning System. Interior Ministry believes this was a step in the right direction.

“The whole problem lies in two aspects – substance and its demand. While we can combat demand by simply communicating with society and explaining all harmful effects of such substances, we can only do so in regard to specific substances,” – Interior Ministry’s Policy Adoption department manager Jānis Bekmanis.

Municipal police call changes useless. Packets containing drugs do not state their chemical contents. Therefore, it will still be impossible to determine whether packets contain harmful substances or not.

“Given the scope of this trade and how fast traders adapt to new legal conditions, I do not think new regulations will have an impact on this business,” – says Chief of Riga municipal police Juris Lūkass.

Ref: 102.109.109.9403


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