Almost 40 percent of new conscripts who arrived at the The Taara Army Base in Võru County, were found to have traces of stimulants in their blood.
The young men who start the mandatory conscription service, are usually only randomly checked when arriving to serve their country.
But 424 new conscripts were surprised to find at the end of September that almost half of them, 200 men, had to go through the drug test.
The conscripts were first asked to admit voluntarily whether they have consumed any illegal substances, followed by a sniffer dog detection.
Out of 200 men picked out for a urine test, 76 were found to have traces of narcotics in their blood. Most had consumed cannabis, while some had taken amphetamine.
The Defense Forces said that they have conducted a similar inspection for the last 15 years and never before has the number of users been so high.
In last three years, 9,000 conscripts have entered the service and a random drug test has so far been a positive in only 145 of them.
“Obviously, we cannot allow the conscripts to be under the influence, while handling weapons during the exercises,” said Hando Tõevere from the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion, which is based in the Taara Army Base.
Police representative said that the increased number of conscripts who have consumed drugs, “reflects the pro-cannabis propaganda in the society.”
Up to 10 grams of marijuana is considered an amount for personal use, and is punished with a fine in Estonia, while large amounts and distribution are criminal offenses, which are punishable with a fine or by up to 5 years in prison.
Last week, a petition was handed over to the Parliament that draws attention to the fact that while using cannabis for personal consumption is illegal in Estonia, the country is still number one in Europe in terms of drug-related deaths – in fact, it is fifth in the world, according to United Nations’ drug report. Most of the deaths occur due to high prevalence of fentanyl use – a potent and dangerous drug. The petition called Estonia to liberalize its policy towards cannabis.
The conscripts found to have traces of drug consumption will have to face questioning by police, but will still enter the mandatory military service.
Editor: S. Tambur