Norway to Decriminalize Drugs

Automatically treating addictions as crimes (instead of as health problems) is stupidity in public policy. Helping people receive treatment for drug problems is far superior to locking them up in a cage.

Norway is to become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs as it focuses on treatment rather than punishment.

The majority of the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, backed the historic shift which was supported by the Conservatives (Hoyre), Liberals (Venstre), the Labor Party (Ap) and the Socialist Left (SV).

They directed the national government to reform its policies on drugs.

Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, told Norwegian publication VG: “It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise.

“The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision: those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment.”

The Norwegian Health Committee is planning a trip to Portugal in February, which decriminalised personal possession of drugs in 2001. The country made the move following a heroin epidemic and the highest drug-related Aids deaths in the European Union (EU).

It now has the second lowest drug-related deaths in the EU.

Norway could join other countries such as Portugal, the Netherlands, Uruguay, and certain US states including California and Colorado, which have liberalised drug laws.