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​Norway Has Just Decriminalised Drugs To Give Addicts Treatment, Not Jail Time

​Norway Has Just Decriminalised Drugs To Give Addicts Treatment, Not Jail Time

So we all know that drugs are generally seen as a pretty bad thing. They can be damaging to your health, your lifestyle and your wallet - and that's before you get to the fact that they're illegal.

Earlier this year an official audit of the UK government's spending on the criminal war on drugs found that potentially £1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) was being drained each year on fighting drugs crime.

The audit also found that it was not possible to tell whether catching and locking up people for drugs offences was even working. In fact, record numbers of people are dying from drugs in the UK.

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Maybe the UK might be better off having a look across the North Sea, where Norway has just become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drug use.

This is so that they can focus on treating addiction and helping people get clean, rather than punishing addicts - which seems pretty reasonable.

Portugal and The Netherlands have similar laws, as do US states California and Colorado.

The change was made after a majority vote in the Storning (Norway's parliament) supported by many of the country's major parties.

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The deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, Sveinung Stensland, told The Independent: "It is important to emphasize that we do not legalize cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalize.

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"The change will take some time, but that means a changed vision: those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment."

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The changes had been on the cards for a while now, and last year they also rolled out a scheme that sentences addicts to treatment programmes rather than prison time.

At the time, Norway's Justice Minister, Anders Anundsen, said: "The goal is that more addicts will rid themselves of their drug dependency and fewer will return to crime.

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"But if the terms of the programme are violated, the convicts must serve an ordinary prison term."

Norway's Justice Minister Anders Anundsen. Credit: PA

The new laws are intended to make sure that the problem of drug addiction is dealt with in the health system rather than in the prison system, where there might be little help on offer to get clean.

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Nicolas Wilkinson, health spokesperson for the Socialist Left party, said: "The majority will stop punishing people who struggle, but instead give them help and treatment."

Seems like a sensible idea - meaning it'll no doubt never catch on.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: World News, News, Europe, Norway, Drugs

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