In March 2018, the government appointed a committee to prepare the implementation of the government’s drug reform, where responsibility for society’s response to the use and possession of illegal drugs for personal use is transferred from the justice sector to the health service. State Attorney Runar Torgersen has led the committee. On December 19, he handed over his report to Minister of Health, Bent Høie. – This is a historic day for Norwegian drug policy, Høie says.
This is a significant reform and a historic day for Norwegian drug policy. We will meet drug users in a different way, and move from punishment to health care. This is also what user organizations have advocated, says Høie.
The committee proposes a new model for how society should react to the use and possession of drugs for personal use. They suggest that the responsibility should shift from the justice sector to the health service. The proposal requires the establishment of an advisory unit for drug cases in the municipalities, authorized by the Health and Care Services Act. Through a new provision in the Police Act, the police can mandate that persons apprehended for possession of drugs for personal use attend this unit.
It is important to stress that the reform does not mean we are going to legalize drug use. We will continue to respond to the use of illegal drugs in the future, and work to ensure that fewer young people test and start using illegal drugs. However, we should use other measures than punishment, says Høie.
The Official Report is now on public consultation to April 2, 2020. The goal of the Gorvernment is to propose necessary legal changes in 2021.