It didn’t take long for the government’s initially well-received proposal to decriminalize small portions of narcotics in Norway to run into trouble. Some groups want to go even farther, some parties in Parliament are firmly opposed while others are skeptical despite agreeing on a need for reform.
The Conservatives-led government won kudos when it finally, after years of demands for more humane drug policy, proposed decriminalization of small amounts for personal use. The idea was to swap punishment with counseling and health care assistance. Police could steal seize drugs, though, and both import and sales would remain criminal offenses.
The humanitarian church association Kirkens Bymisjon quickly followed up by also advocating establishment of specific “acceptance zones” where addicts could buy their drugs without facing prosecution. The Center and Progress parties are opposed to any decriminalization, fearing it would encourage recreation drug use among youth. The Labour Party, which long has sought drug reform, remains split on how it should be carried out. Dilemmas abound within Labour, where former party leaders Thorvald and Jens Stoltenberg were personally involved with the issue because of the addiction of their daugher and sister Nini, who later died.
“It’s extremely important for Labour to say we favour reform,” Cecilie Knibe Kroglund of Labour’s Agder chapter, told news bureau NTB. “It’s best to improve the reforms presented through Parliamentary negotiations.” The government’s proposal is due to be acted upon this spring, with an open hearing set for mid-March.