Norway to Decriminalize Personal Drug Use in ‘Historic’ Shift

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Norway plans to decriminalize the personal use of illegal drugs in small quantities, citing recommendations from the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

The Nordic country will abolish criminal liability “for the use of drugs and the acquisition and possession of a small amount of drugs for own use,” according to legal proposals by the health-care ministry to lawmakers, published on Friday. The acts will be illegal, but not punishable.

“The drug reform is a historic shift in Norwegian drug policy,” Health Minister Bent Hoie said in an emailed statement. “It’s high time we replace punishment with help.”

Norway, along with its Nordic neighbors, has some of Europe’s highest drug-induced mortality rates. In contrast, the region’s welfare systems rank among the best globally. Norway had 66 cases of drug-related deaths per million adults in 2017, compared with an average of 23.7 for the European Union, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The police will confiscate the below-threshold drugs found on any person, who will then be ordered to appear at a municipal advisory unit, the ministry said.

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