Health Minister Bent Høie of the Conservatives would rather see Norway’s public health system take care of drug abusers than the country’s criminal justice system. He’s proposing that fines and jail terms for drug use be replaced with health care and drug rehab programs.
People caught using narcotics currently face fines that amounted to NOK 48 million in Oslo and Bergen last year alone. Høie thinks the fines do more harm than good, and that the police should transfer responsibility for drug abusers over to the health care center.
Høie stressed that narcotics would still be illegal in Norway and that police would still have a role in reacting to narcotics use. “But the reaction shouldn’t be fines or jail terms, but help,” Høie said.
He’s confident such a measure would have support from other parties in Parliament including the Greens, the Liberals and Socialist Left, who have been in favour of decriminalization. Labour and the Center Party have been evaluating other variations of the same model, reported newspaper Klassekampen.