Norway’s parliament has voted to decriminalise drugs and offer treatment to addicts instead. 133 seats out of 175 voted in favour of decriminalising illegal drugs across the country. According to Norway’s 2017 Country Drug Report, 266 people died from drug-related deaths this year. Instead of being handed a prison sentence, drug users would be given treatment. People with addictions to drugs would be regarded as needing treatment for an illness.
Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee told VG: “It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise. “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.” Nicolas Wilinson, health spokesman for the Socialist Left told VG: “The majority will stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment.”. According to Norway’s Country Drug Report, 266 people died from drug-related deaths which is said to be an increase on last year, reports The Independent. The Portugal model The move follows that of Portugal which decriminalised drugs in 2001. Drug addicts in the country are given therapy or community service rather than fines or jail time. However drugs still remain illegal in the country which means that those found to be growing drugs, dealing substances or trafficking them will still be handed criminal penalties. When a person is found in possession of a small amount of drugs, the drugs are confiscated and the person is interviewed by a psychiatrist, a social worker and a lawyer. Following this, a number of sanctions can be put in place such as a ban on visiting certain places, a foreign travel ban and a small fine, in line with the country’s minimum wage. The result in Portugal has been positive. According to the latest European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and drug addiction report, there are six drug related deaths in Portugal for every one million people. While in the UK, there are 60 deaths for every million people.