Norway’s parliament votes to decriminalize drug use (updated)

Norway’s Parliament is set to decriminalize illicit drugs and divert people found with small quantities into treatment options rather than pursuing criminal prosecution.

“It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise,” health committee chairman Sveinung Stensland is quoted in the world media. “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.”

“No policy changes have been decided,” explains also Stig Erik Sørheim, NordAN board member and president of EURAD. “A majority of the parliamentarians agree that drug users should receive help rather than punishment. However, this is just a slogan. Of course drug users get health and social assistance already, and even if drug use is decriminalized they will still be punished for other crimes. The outcome of this will probably be a white paper on drug policy. One of the recommendations from this white paper may be decriminalization, but time will tell,” said Sørheim.