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Police Veteran Asks for Legalizing Drugs in Norway

- Norwegian drug policy does not work, says superintendent and detective Bard Dyrdal on Norwegian state television NRK.
Police Veteran Asks for Legalizing Drugs in Norway
Photo : Valentin Ottone

Dyrdal, who has 30 years experience in law enforcement, believes many things do not work in the Norwegian drug policy today.

He further argues that it is high time to discuss the legalization of some narcotic substances.

- We should question whether Norwegian drug policy works. We’ve done the same thing for 30 years. We have devoted considerable resources to prevent users and seller. The only thing we have achieved is to push up the price of drugs, said Dyrdal during a debate program on the state television NRK.

He emphasized that Norway has one of highest overdose related deaths in the world despite a lot of police resources and money which is spent to fight against drugs. A third of inmates in prisons are sentenced for drug-related crimes.

- It is problematic that our drug policy gives often strong grounds for organized crime. By legalizing the light narcotic substances, these activities can be diminished. Legalization will make it possible to control the drug market, as is done with alcohol and tobacco, said he.

On the other hand, Secretary General of Norwegian Drug Policy Association (NNPF) Lars Holmen does not believe legalization is a solution.

- Much can be done better in Norwegian drug policy. It is important to do more to prevent new recruits in the environment. But we do not believe that organized crimine will disappear if we legalize some drugs, said Holmen.

He points out that there is illegal marketability for even like alcohol and tobacco, even if the supply of these substances are regulated by law.

Drug Use in Norway: Highest Overdose related death in Europe

Norway currently has the second highest heroin-related mortality rate in Europe*. A higher proportion of people die from drug overdoses in Norway than in any other country in Europe except Estonia, according to the 2015 report released by the EU drugs agency. 

Norway is also a leading country in Europe for methamphetamine use. According to the report by EU drugs agency in 2014, Norway was responsible for 40 percent of the reported seizures of the drug in 2012. 

In Norway, users are allowed to inject their own drugs in government-monitored safe rooms. 

A national survey on the use of alcohol and other substances in the general population aged 15 and over has normally been conducted in Norway every five years since 1968 (Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research/SIRUS).

Data from these studies show that cannabis is still the most commonly used illicit drug in Norway. In 2014 the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use among 16- to 64-year-olds was 21.9 %, while 4.2 % had used it in the last year and 1.6 % in the last month. Among young adults (aged 16–34), the corresponding estimates were 27.6 %, 8.6 % and 3.0 %. Further analysis of data suggests relatively stable rates in cannabis use.

*Data source: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

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