In a bid to assist addicts, rather than lock users in cages, Norway’s parliament voted last week to decriminalize all drugs — citing Portugal and its general success lowering addiction and incarceration rates, getting those who need it into treatment, and drastically reducing crime and other issues related to the illegality of substances for personal use — thus, becoming the first Scandinavian nation to do so.
Four major political parties campaigned in favor of the revolutionary shift in policy, and a majority vote in Storting, Norwegian parliament, brought to fruition their efforts to, as Nicolas Wilkinson, health spokesman for the Socialist Left (SV) party, explained, “stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment.”
“It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise,” Storting Health Committee Deputy Chairman Sveinung Stensland told national publication, VG.
“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.”
The Independent reports the parties backing the measure included the Conservatives (Hoyre), Liberals (Venstre), the Labor Party (Ap), and the Socialist Left (SV) — with those voting in favor of full decriminalization directing the Norwegian government to reform its drug policies accordingly.
It wasn’t just the relative success in Portugal that motivated Norwegian politicians to act in addicts’ better interests, but Norway’s own timid experimentations with decriminalization.