According to the minister, the user will be dealt with as a patient, noting that Greece has some 350 drug-related deaths annually, while 5,000 inmates in the country's prison system have been incarcerated on drug charges.
The use of narcotics will be punished as a petty offence, rather than as a misdemeanour (indictable) as is currently the case.
"We don't want to pass an overall message that there is no punishment - there will be a petty offence penalty for those who possess or cultivate...for their personal use," the minister said.
As for traffickers and dealers, Papaioannou said that they will be separated into three categories.
The first category concerns traffickers, which will entail a life sentence, without mitigating circumstances. A second category will entail 5-20 years imprisonment. The third category, that of a simple misdemeanour, will entail a prison term of up to 5 years.
KKE strongly attacks plan to de-criminalise narcotics use
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday strongly protested over an intended bill that would de-criminalise the use of soft drugs for personal purposes.
The KKE, in an announcement, said it "categorically opposes" the bill that "legalises the use of drugs", and called on the working people, the youth and the entire Greek people "to react decisively against the destruction being prepared against your youth and children".
The KKE warned that "the legalisation of narcotics pre-announced by the government, with supposed tears for the users who are imprisoned, aims only at the minds and souls of chiefly the young people, but also the entire people".
"A youth in a semi-stupor with its head down is convenient for passing its policy. A youth that lacks the rights to education, health, culture and sport, but which has the 'right' to cultivate hashish in flowerpots, poses no threat to the system that they (government) are defending with tooth and nail," the KKE announcement said.
The Communist Party charged that "narcotics are a result of the party being applied, they are not anyone's free choice, nor an illness".
"Those who are shedding crocodile tears for the users are the same ones who are calling the users a problem that must be removed from the center of Athens and distributed among the hospitals, and are condemning them to be forever dependent on methadone, which will be distributed by the state itself, but also by private doctors and pharmacies," the KKE said.
It said that the creation of an anti-narcotics front is and "imperative need", and "it is the imperative duty of all the working people and the public to not allow the new plan for liberalising drugs to come to pass".