This Country Is On Its Way to Decriminalize Drugs

The Norwegian Parliament
The Norwegian Parliament | © Alexander Ottesen / Flickr

Portugal did it back in 2001—and by all accounts, it’s working: decriminalizing the use of all drugs, and shifting the focus from punishment to therapy has actually helped decrease the number of drug-related deaths. And now, Norway could be the first Scandinavian country to follow in Portugal’s footsteps, as the majority of Storting, the Norwegian parliament, pushes the government for the decriminalization of all recreational drug use.

The majority of the Parliament stands for this historical shift

On December 13, four of Norway’s leading political parties (the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the Socialist Left Party) agreed that it’s time to “move the conversation away from punishment to help, treatment and follow-ups.” Both the Conservatives (who are also the leading party) and the LPs talked about how although drugs should still remain illegal, addicts should be given treatment instead of jail time. Transferring the responsibility for drug usage from the justice sector to the health sector practically equals decriminalization of all drugs.

Stortinget on session

So what happens now?

It’s definitely the beginning of a big reform, as the government is now called to act upon the Parliament’s (almost unanimous) suggestion. The Healthcare sector will have to create a system that helps heavy drug users get clean while also arranging regular check-ups for youngsters who have been found in use or possession of small doses. According to Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Parliament Health Committee, “It will take some time, but it signifies a change in perspective. Those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals facing fines and imprisonment.”

In the near future, this shift is also thought to free up some bandwidth for the police: the legal use limits have changed, which means that the police can focus on apprehending dealers and drug-traffickers instead of recreational users. In a country that has such strict alcohol regulation laws, it’s interesting to see how this proposed change will pan out, and if Norway, like Portugal, will eventually benefit from it. In fact, the Parliament Health Committee will travel to Portugal in February, to better study how the process of decriminalization took place. Here’s hoping that they will return with some inspiring ideas to implement.

Marijuana

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article