Smoking tolerance level [1= very illegal 5=virtually legal]: 3

Legislation: Marijuana is currently illegal in Slovakia, and so is any related activity. However, there are upcoming sounds of medical use legalization.

Law Enforcement: Marijuana import, export or possession are prohibited. However, it has been reported that the police is sometimes forgiving towards drug law offenders.

Buy Marijuana in Bratislava: The safest bet would be to sit in one of the city’s trendy café’s and ask young people at nearby tables.

Bratislava Marijuana Prices: $12-$15 per 1 gram of pot

Brands: Usually home-grown local weed is sold. The local weed is in varying quality.

City id:

Time Zone: UTC/GMT +1 hour

Dialing codes: + 421 (Slovak Republic) Area code: 2

Population: 5,407,956

Climate: temperate — cool summers, cold winters

Size: 48,845 square kilometers

Language: Slovakian (Slavic-derived)

Currency: Slovak Crown

Date of Independence: January 1, 1993

Bratislava may be the capital of the Czech Republic´s sister country Slovakia, but the picturesque cobble stoned city doesn’t share Prague´s reputation as the “Amsterdam of the East.”

While there is a lot of home-grown bud floating around the city — usually of varying quality — the stiff penalties and low tolerance for drug use are a good excuse to stick to the excellent beers and occasional shot of honey liquor.

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Separated from the Czech Republic in 1993, Slovakia failed to make the economic success out of the break-up of Czechoslovakia their neighbours did. And without the same level of stunning cultural and architectural excess, tourism — and tolerance for Western drug use — has remained low. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good time to be had in beautiful downtown Bratislava.

The city has an abundance of outdoor cafes, lining the streets of the city’s Old Town. While there are a few overpriced dives, you can usually play it safe by heading to wherever the tables are fairly full.

Archways, cobblestones and detailed architectural designs add to the European ambiance that had drawn moviemakers to film Kull the Conqueror, Dragonheart and The Peacemaker in the city.

Interesting modern art installments — including a laser beam that lances through a glass tube before reflecting down the adjoining street with the aid of mirrors. A mirrored ball splits the beam over a few of the cafes.

“We spent all weekend lounging at one of the cafes downtown drinking beer,” said David, a Floridian on vacation with his girlfriend. “The beer was cheap, cheap, cheap and the food is better than what we had in Prague.”

Golden Pheasant –a pilsner — and Corgon — a lager– are the two beers most commonly found on tap, with Corgon holding out in local hangouts and Pheasant in touristy watering holes.

Honey wine, a mildly sweet drink with a fairly low alcohol content, is rarely available in bars. But keep an eye out for bottles sold at stands and stores around the shopping district.

Domestic hard liquors are definitely worth taking a sip of too. Again showing the country’s ties with the Czech Republic to the west, plum brandy known as slivonice is wildly popular. Often aged in oak barrels for three years, take a careful look at what your being served since cheap slivonice bears an unpleasant resemblance to rubbing alcohol. A drink unique to the region is borovicka, a juniper brandy reminiscent of dry gin.

Smokin´out

Despite the strict laws and fairly conservative society that frowns on anything but alcohol-related inebriation, there is weed to be found in Bratislava.

Almost all of the pot is home-grown either in backyards, at country houses or in small indoor plots. Your best way to get a good toke is to find a pub filled with young Slovaks, sit down and strike up a conversation. The people are extremely friendly, especially compared to Czechs.

“I was just walking through town after getting off the overnight train from Prague and I hooked up with a group of Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians downtown,” said Michelle from San Francisco. “We went out and partied all day.”

Other places to buy include street vendors selling paraphernalia in between the cafes in the downtown shopping district.

If you are buying, expect to pay about $15 USD per gram for pot of moderate to low quality. Hash may be available, but is expensive and very difficult to find.

Legal hurdles

Part of the reason weed and hash are harder to get in Bratislava is the strength of the local drug laws. Unlike neighbouring countries and the European Union — where possession for personal use is permitted — there is an absolute ban on carrying, using or selling any drug in Slovakia, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

“It a criminal offence to unlawfully possess narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances…for one’s own use,” a Ministry of the Interior representative said.

“The new provisions of Section 187 introduce criminal liability for whoever manufactures, exports, imports or transits, purchases, exchanges or otherwise procures, possesses for any length of time without authorization narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.”

Slovak police are permitted to force someone to be tested for drug use if they are arrested for any reason, and punishments range from expensive fines to jail time and expulsion from the country.

If you are carrying enough to be considered a dealer — an amount not defined by law — jail sentences of 15 to 20 years loom on the horizon.

With Draconian drug laws unlikely to be reformed until the Slovak Republic enters the European Union in 2005 (at the earliest), this picturesque Central European town may be best enjoyed through the fog of booze instead of pot smoke.

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