Yes marijuana is becoming much more popular in Poland. Apparently, not just among the youth either. In fact, I've read several statistics that Poland consistently ranks in the top 3 in EU for percentage of people who smoke marijuana in the last year. France, Czech, Netherlands and Poland consistently rank at the top. Even before Poland joined the EU, a lot of the 'vice' shops like the sex shops, head shops, etc. were popping up everywhere. There use to be a bit of smart shops that would sell synthetic chemical drugs made in China, India or even some locally (i.e. Mocasz - which means strongman) but those are like the synthetic marijuana, bath salt, etc. type of drugs that people freak out on. Poland has outlawed these shops and much of the synthetic drugs. They really are terrible - people go crazy, act violent, develop tremors, kidney problems, and all sorts of other issues. The problem is that the chemists are really entrepreneurial and already have the next analogs lined up to hit the market once the existing ones become banned. It's a game of catch up that the cops and medical professionals play. I don't know why people would even use drugs that are made in some lab in China or bathtub in an abandoned house and have basically no history of human consumption nor medical testing.
However, possession laws are still pretty strict. I know someone who's in jail right now for 1 year because he was caught with a joint in his car. However, he had a previous record and didn't bother getting a private attorney (I don't think he could afford it). It's kind of ridiculous because in Poland if you're caught with say like 100 grams of marijuana, you'll get a much harsher sentence than you would in the US - jail is pretty much inevitable in that situation unless you have an excellent attorney, have an absolutely clean record, pay enormous fines, and do tons and tons of other stuff. In the US, if it's all in one bag, you'll probably get probation in most states. While in others it'd be a ticket - like in Ohio it'd be a $200 some dollar fine you wouldn't even have to go to court for.
I believe there was some push to decriminalize personal possession of small amounts but I don't know if that passed though or not. It's ridiculous because small amounts of even soft drugs carry far worse penalties than in the US or in the west. However, if you're caught with like 10 kilos of cocaine, heroin, or some hard drugs - you'll probably do like 5-7 years for that. 8-10 at the very most. In the US, you'd be looking at at least 20 years, potentially even life if you've had a previous trafficking or intent to sell charge.
which relieved judges from the duty of investigating the case themselves.
Isn't that the prosecutor's job?
in fact if the person is just a bit over the limit, they don't even lose their licence.
It really really depends on the cop, locality, how hard they're cracking down, and if cops are just arresting people to boost their arrest rates up and make themselves look good. For example, the bishop, cardinal (forgot his exact title - RCC hierarchy) of Warsaw got a 4 year license suspension and a bunch of community service for driving drunk - and not just a few beers, like he was wasted. In some areas, the police conduct sobriety checkpoints and they'll almost always nab at least one person a day. If you look up the charges of people who are in jail, you'll find that quite a few are there because of driving or biking while intoxicated. The limit is far less than in the US too - I believe it's like .02 or .04 or something... not exactly sure but I do know for a fact it's less than the .08 in the US.
Both very ineffective, corrupt and incompetent.
100% agree. It's a mix of old commie vestige with hastily changed laws to make Poland appear more democratic and EU friendly while still retaining a strict Catholic conservative stance. Some aspects of crime and punishment were actually far more lenient under Communism - but of course freedom of speech, press, assembly, etc. was limited and a person could be charged with 'crimes against the state' for something that would be considered normal today. However, things like abortion though were legal in communism.
- and have you often heard Poles admit they're wrong?
No, of course not. We're always right