Norway: Help, not punishment for drug use

The Norwegian Government proposes that use and possession of smaller quantities of illicit drugs for personal use no longer shall be punishable as a criminal offence. Instead of punishment, persons caught in possession of illicit drugs will be referred to a mandatory meeting with a municipal counselling service. There, they will receive information about the risks and negative health consequences of drug use and receive an offer of help. Use and possession of illicit drugs will continue to be illegal.

The government submitted a proposal to the Parliament on February 19th 2021 for an amendment to the penal code.

“The Norwegian Drug  Policy reform represents a historic shift in Norwegian drug policy. Not only will the reform amend legislation; it will also express a change attitudes towards persons with drug problems. For too long, persons with drug related problems have been stigmatised and criminally prosecuted. They have been threatened, chased and humiliated. It is overdue that we replace punishment with help”, says Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie.

“Several decades of criminalisation has not worked. We are proud to present a Drug Policy Reform that offers help, not punishment. This is a victory for common sense, for knowledge and dignity for those who are struggling. This will be Norway’s most important social reform in decades. As Party Leader of the Liberal Party of Norway, I am proud that our efforts for better drug policy over the past 20 years are being realised”, says Party Leader of Liberal Party of Norway and Ministry of Education and Research, Guri Melby.

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