In a move surprising everyone, Norway’s parliament voted to decriminalize use of all drugs, becoming the first Scandinavian country to do so. The reasoning behind the vote is to begin focusing on treating addiction rather than punishing people for it. Norway would adopt a law similar to Portugal, whereby people found with small amounts of illicit substances would be diverted to treatment as opposed to being thrown in the pokey. The move was approved by a majority of the Norwegian parliament, according to Huffington Post.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported earlier this year that “ 8.6 percent of Norwegians ages 16 to 34 had used cannabis (marijuana) in the past year, with 2.2 percent using cocaine and 1.2 percent using MDMA (ecstasy).” Norway also had a total of 266 overdoses in 2014. People are hoping that decriminalizing drugs in Norway will have the same effect that the policy change had in Portugal, where deaths from overdoses and overall drug use have gone down since the country opted to decriminalize drugs 16 years ago.
Don’t go busting out your pipes yet, folks. There is no actual legislation proposed that would make this go into effect just yet. This vote simply pushes the Norwegian government to begin making changes to its existing law. Though the ball is definitely rolling though. They’re hoping however that with this new push the government will eventually, “stop punishing people who struggle but instead give them help and treatment. This is the start of a big rush reform. Now a big effort is being done to switch the system from punishment to help,” said the health representative of the Socialist Left Party, Nicolas Wilkinson.
Norway’s vote represents the beginning of a new age in Europe, one where people who use drugs are not treated as criminals with a moral failing, but rather as normal citizens, who can find help if they need it.
Source: Huffington Post
Image Source: visitnorway.com
Which will be the next country to decriminalize or legalize drugs? Who will follow in Norway’s steps? Tell us in the comments!