Norway Has Voted to Decriminalize Drug Use

Norway started a push to decriminalize drug use this week, when the majority of its parliament moved to focus on treatment for addicted drug users instead of punishment.

“The majority in the parliament has asked the government to prepare for reform,” a spokesperson for the Norwegian legislature, the Storting, told Newsweek. “It has started a political process,” he said. But he cautioned that “it’s just the starting point,” and that there’s no legislation yet.  

The majority wants to “stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment,” Nicolas Wilkinson, the SV party’s health spokesman in the parliament, told the Norwegian publication VG. He said the effort will focus on treatment and follow-up programs. Members of parliament emphasized that they do not want to legalize drugs, but only to decriminalize.

“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,” Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, told VG.

Some members of parliament are calling it a “historic transformation of Norwegian drug policy.” They hope to transfer responsibility for drug policy from the criminal justice system to health agencies.

It’s a big next step for the Scandinavian country, which has been dancing around the possibility of decriminalization for…

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