A significant win for drug reform was announced on Sunday with news that Norway’s Parliament has effectively decriminalized all drug use.
The Scandinavian nation stated that the responsibility of handling the estimated 10,000 drug addicts or more, most of whom are addicted to heroin, will transfer from the country’s justice system to its health department.
The move received overwhelming bipartisan support from the Labor, Conservative, Socialist and Liberal parties of Norway.
“[We] will stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment,” said Nicolas Wilkinson, the health spokesman for the Socialist Left Party. Wilkinson added that this move is the beginning of major reform for the country where the government will “switch the system from punishment to help.”
The deputy chairman of Norway’s Parliamentary Health Committee, Sveinung Stensland, also stated “it is important to emphasize that we do not legalize cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalize.”
Although drug crimes such as trafficking and manufacturing still exist, the move has been hailed as a way to free up precious police resources.
In February, the Health Committee will head to Portugal to research best practices for implementation. Portugal decriminalized all drug use in 2001 and has seen incredible success.