Norway Poised To Decriminalize All Illegal Drugs

Norway is poised to make some big changes to its drug laws.

Illegal Drugs

Just days after President Trump mentioned Norway as a place that the United States should accept more immigrants from, the Norwegian Parliament is poised to take a big step forward when it comes to drug legalization:

Norway’s Parliament is set to decriminalize illicit drugs and divert people found with small quantities into treatment options rather than pursuing criminal prosecution.

Drug use, from marijuana to cocaine and heroin, would be decriminalized under the plan, similar to the system in Portugal, which has been held up as a model by drug law reformers worldwide as a preferable option to jailing drug users. The plan was supported by a majority of the Norwegian Parliament, known as the Storting.

A report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction earlier this year found that 8.6 percent of Norwegians ages 16 to 34 had used cannabis (marijuana) in the past year, with 2.2 percent using cocaine and 1.2 percent using MDMA (ecstasy). The report also found there were more than 48,000 drug law offenses in Norway, while 266 drug overdose deaths had occurred in the country in 2014.

The parliamentary result, however, does not automatically decriminalize illicit drugs in Norway. The vote directs the government to begin pursuing changes to laws to reflect the outcome of the vote. There is no draft legislation yet that actually would enact the change, according to Parliament.

“The majority in the parliament has asked the government to prepare for reform,” a Storting spokesperson told Newsweek. “It has started a political process… it’s just the starting point.”

Under the plan, users who are caught with small quantities of drugs would be placed into treatment programs.

The government “will stop punishing people who struggle but instead give them help and treatment,” Nicolas Wilkinson, health spokesman for the Socialist Left party, told Norwegian media outlet VG. “This is the start of a big rush reform. Now a big effort is being done to switch the system from punishment to help.”

Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting’s health committee, told VG that Norway would not be legalizing the drugs, just decriminalizing their use.

“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,” he told VG

While it falls short of full legalization of harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or opioids, this move by Norway goes far beyond anything we’ve seen in the United States. Domestically, the liberalization of drug laws has come primarily in the form of legalization or decriminalization of marijuana use and possession, or the legalization of use for medicinal purposes. The same is true of our neighbors to the north in Canada, where marijuana is expected to be legalized nationwide by sometime this year. In those cases, the focus has been exclusively on marijuana, and public opinion polls have shown that Americans are less supportive of the legalization of “hard” drugs than they are of the legalization of marijuana. Given the fact that marijuana has long been viewed as a “soft” drug more akin to alcohol or even caffeine this isn’t very surprising. Public opinion is different when it comes to harder drugs that have proven to be physically as well as psychologically addictive. These substances have generally been seen as less socially acceptable, and far more dangerous both for users and for the community as a whole. In this case, Norway is poised to decriminalize use or possession of all of those aforementioned harder drugs as well as marijuana, something that has only been tried in one other country to date.

In 2001, as The Huffington Post notes, Portugal proved to be at the vanguard of the legalization/decriminalization trend when it changed its laws to move away from fining or jailing those charged drug possession and toward placing them in treatment programs. That policy has now been in place for nearly 17 years and seems to be quite successful according to all the available evidence. In the immediate years after the change, the number of people charged with drug-related crimes dropped significantly and the number of those continuing in longer-term treatment programs increased. Additionally, a report by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation released in 2014 found that while the number of people in Portugal who had used drugs at some point in their lives had increased from 2001 to 2012, the numbers who had used drugs at any point in the year or month prior to the survey had decreased. This means that fewer people were using drugs on a regular basis. Additionally, the data showed that drug-related deaths, cases of HIV and AIDS, and “general rates of drug use” had declined precipitously from 2001 to 2012. All of this seems to indicate that Portugal’s nearly 20-year experiment has been a success on pretty much every level, and it bodes well for prospects for a similar strategy in Norway and other countries.

Even taking all of this into account, it seems clear that it will be some time before nations like the United States or Canada are ready to proceed down this road. As I’ve noted, marijuana use has become more socially acceptable in both countries but the same does not appear to be the case when it comes to narcotics and other hard drugs. Until that changes, it’s unlikely that we’ll see localities, states, or the Federal Government move to take steps similar to those of Portugal or Norway any time soon. At the same time, if these experiments elsewhere in the world prove to be successful in reducing drug use and lowering the crime rate, we could see a shift in professional and public opinion that could make changes like this possible in the United States. If and when that happens, we will finally start moving toward a rational policy when it comes to drug use and the so-called “War On Drugs.”

FILED UNDER: Crime, Economics and Business, Europe, Law and the Courts, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Hmmm…What did Trump know, and when did he know about this?
    Is this why he said he wanted only people from Norway to immigrate?

  2. Kathy says:

    I’ve wondered for a while whether a desire to punish bad behavior, however such is defined, outweighs any arguments to implement the means to ameliorate or end a problem.

    Consider air crash investigations. Typically the focus is in finding out what happened, how it happened, and most important how to keep it from happening again.It’s unusual for any of the people responsible for the accident (if any) to face prosecution of any kind, except perhaps in cases of gross negligence or actual malice. The result over decades has been a big reduction in accidents, and improved chances for survival in some types of accidents.

    So we should decide whether we want to reduce drug use and the problems associated with it, or to punish people who use drugs.

  3. Joe says:

    Dammit! Now they’ll never immigrate to the US!

  4. michael reynolds says:

    A big part of the explanation is obvious. When we had a crack epidemic the answer was, ‘lock ’em up.’ When we have an opioid epidemic the answer is, ‘treatment.’ Crack was seen as ‘black,’ opioids are seen as ‘white.’ There are few more blatant examples of racism.

    The drug war was not about saving us from the evils of drugs, it was about filling prisons with people of color. As soon as the drug war started impinging on white voters we started getting talk of compassion. Compassion. From Republicans.

  5. Tyrell says:

    How about the health effects of these drugs? The safety issues? Are the leaders of Norway thinking about that?

  6. Dutchmarbel says:

    It is less about legalizing the drugs than it is about decriminalizing the users. Very simplistically stated: In Europe junkies are more seen as patients than criminals (in relation to their drug use, not if they do criminal things to get money). In the USA junkies are more seen as weak individuals who are personally responsible for the choices they make. The first approach is more pragmatic and socially motivated (what is better for the community in the long term), the latter one fits better in a culture that feels that the individual should be seen separate from the society he/she grew up in.

  7. Kathy says:

    @Tyrell: Drug prohibitions, as far back as the opium trade in China, have not succeeded in tempering drug use in a given population. Whereas Portugal’s experiment in decriminalization has reduced drug use, and therefore also any health effects and safety issues that go with it.

    The question, then, is why keep pursuing failed policies which have accomplished nothing but the growth of criminal gangs, in the US and other countries, and the downgrading of police all over the country?

  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Good for Norway. Though I would like to see a program implemented that took the profit out of the distribution and sale of hard drugs. For individuals who begin using, they can acquire the drugs, of a known quality and potency from a licensed dispensary at a moderate cost. Such a dispensary can also serve as a gateway to treatment.

    The objective is to put the hurt on the drug cartels, while at the same time cut down on accidental overdoses.

  9. Tyrell says:

    @Kathy: That is certainly reasonable and sensible.

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “I’ve wondered for a while whether a desire to punish bad behavior, however such is defined, outweighs any arguments to implement the means to ameliorate or end a problem.”

    Well, of course it does. Punishment to repentance is the American way. That’s why they’re called “penitentiaries” (places where people become penitent).

    It’s not about solving a problem. It never has been.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Of course not. Norwegians are all socialists (!!!!!!) and are therefore incapable of reasoning through questions of that sort. I’m sure they’ve never–ever asked any such questions, probably never even considered it.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    I wonder how this compares to The Netherlands going in the opposite direction. When they decriminalized drugs Amsterdam became a junkie Mecca, with needles littering streets and illegal prostitution out of control. I know they have backed away from acceptance but don’t know what they have replaced it with.

  13. Franklin says:

    Is the Norwegian Parliament really called “Snorting” (or did I read that wrong)?

  14. Franklin says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Jeff Sessions’ head is going to explode any minute now.

  15. BigJohn says:

    @MarkedMan: How did the Netherlands go in the opposite direction? The only example of that I know of is banning “magic mushrooms” in 2008. There is a big push now to legalize commercial production of marijuana so the coffee shops aren’t getting their supply from organized crime. They have doubled down on their various harm reduction programs. I think you’ve been misinformed.

  16. BigJohn says:

    Hard drugs don’t have to be socially acceptable to decriminalize in the way the Norwegians might do. Decriminalization can mean a lot of things but what they are talking about doing isn’t legalization and it’s not anarchy. Sending people to treatment instead of jail when they are caught with drugs isn’t super far off from the way it is often handled in the US, but we tend to saddle people with criminal records. Oftenthose convicted are sent for substance abuse evaluations and have to follow the recommendations as a condition of probation or a suspended sentence or they go into drug court and sometimes are actually sent off for treatment. That last option doesn’t happen so much because most places that just isn’t an option available in the system. There are probation officers and various types of detention facilities and the prison might have some treatment program people will be required to complete to get released. It’s all still punishment with a little bit of a treatment component sometimes, and generally if people get in trouble more than once it’s all about punishment. That’s just the way the system works. I work criminal cases as an attorney in two Southern states and am always having to tell people that the system isn’t about helping people, it’s about punishing them.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @BigJohn: from the Economist, Jan 2017:

    The number of coffeeshops in the Dutch capital has fallen by half since 1995, from 350 to just 167. … Another 30 were stubbed out as part of an effort to clean up the seediest parts of the red light district a few years ago. Around 150 prostitute windows were closed as part of the same scheme. But the largest chunk of coffeeshops went out of business either because they ran into trouble with law enforcement (there have been several shootings recently)

    The article also points out that not everyone is on board with this approach. But the reality is the country as a whole is moving in the opposite direction.

    Harder drugs? Well, if a junkie registers they can get free heroin. Why? Because even though heroin was illegal the Netherlands has become a drug Mecca and thousands of junkies arrive every year. Being junkies, they commit crimes to support their habit Including constant petty theft, begging and unregulated prostitution that resulted in spreading AIDS and other diseases.

    This is a difficult issue, but I can’t help but question the morality of providing a substance so addictive that you can die just by quitting cold turkey. Of course the libertarian mantra is free will but the idea that junkies are making some kind of choice once they are addicted is beyond naive.

  18. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: I sympathize with your concern, yet it’s fair to point out that everything you said about the terrible effects of opioids is also true of alcohol. To be consistent you’d have to also be in favor of ethanol prohibition.

    Not trying to argue with you unnecessarily. Just pointing out that there’s all kinds of twists and turns in any plan to withhold psychoactive substances from people who like them and want them.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: I take your point about the negative effects of alcohol but disagree that they are as damaging on a per case basis as opioids. I would agree that alcohol is more destructive than pot.

    My point is that we don’t live in a theoretical world, we live in an actual one. Years ago I thought that the Netherlands’ virtual legalization of pot was an unalloyed good. The reality though, is that is was the only country that did so and that meant it became a pot tourist destination. OK, that could be controlled. But that reputation led to a general influx of all kinds of drugs. So all of a sudden you have, say, a bunch of German junkies show up, living on the streets and trying to get money for the next fix. Some of them prostituted themselves and operated on the streets in the districts that weren’t organized for prostitution, which meant strung out hookers at major intersections in residential neighborhoods. Some of them became recruiters for their dealers, and hung out near where Dutch teenagers congregated in hopes of getting them hooked and earning a commission. Many of them became petty thieves, stealing bicycles, stuff from cars, entering houses and snatching what they could. (Stealing a bicycle in The Netherlands is not a minor inconvenience. Many Dutch use it as their primary mode of transportation. Imaging coming out of grocery store with your arms full and finding you have no way home.)

    I’ve been to Amsterdam a half dozen times over a thirty year period and the changes have not been good. They haven’t been overwhelmingly terrible either, but at a time when cities around Europe and the US have been going through a renaissance, Amsterdam has spun its wheels to some extent. 10-15 years ago, while Times Square in the US was cleaning up, the Dutch red light districts were going from a few windows with almost caricature prostitutes lounging on chaises to hundreds of windows, many with obvious junkies in semi-withdrawal.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    I should add that I think the legalization of pot won’t have the same impact in the US because so many states are doing it. But it doesn’t have zero impact either. I’ve spent a lot of time in Boulder, Colorado over the last ten years. And every year since medical marijuana it has attracted more and more pot tourism. On some hands it is good, but it’s also meant a lot of kids that don’t have many tourist dollars to spend showing up with nothing to do but drink and smoke, nowhere to live so they sleep under the overpasses on the beautiful network of bike and hike trails. A few of them come out onto the main drag in downtown, which is closed off to cars, and play guitar and sing for tips. But lately their numbers have been increasing and they attract a lot more of their less talented friends, who hang out and get into arguments and fights. Alcohol is cheaper than pot, and day drinking makes people a hell of lot more belligerent and obnoxious. And in the last couple of years, I see a significant number of these who have obviously graduated to harder stuff.

    My problem with Libertarians is their tendency to construct fantasies in their head about how everything will be perfect once we make all drugs legal. I guess it’s the Hillary Clinton gene in me that makes me automatically gaming out how it will play in reality and start thinking about ways to achieve a goal (not imprisoning people and ruining their lives for smoking a joint, or becoming an addict) in a way that would actually work instead of just generating an inevitable backlash.

  21. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: Hum… We seem to be having this colloquy and I’m not sure it’s working because I don’t particularly disagree about the importance of civic behavior and the significance of drugs to it. But I think you do not give any weight to things that obviously should matter if you’re making large, broad statements.

    To wit: For many heroin addicts, there is virtually no interference with their daily lives once they meet their daily need for massaging the opiate receptors. They’re out there among us and we live with them all the time but your preferred ‘solution’ turns them invisible. Once they are invisible — WHAT DRUG PROBLEM? Until bodies start piling up.

    I think your ‘solution’ is a big part of what made our American opiate ‘epidemic’ so big.

    I’m still pretty much libertarian on the subject and you have convinced me of only one thing — that you are convinced you know the answer but you don’t.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: My wife works in a treatment center for women addicts with young children. Their addictions have destroyed their lives and families. Sure, just as there are people who smoked two packs a day and lived to ninety, there are some thirty year junkies that are high functioning. However, even with them, I sincerely doubt they were safe to leave home alone with small children. And among the opioids, my understanding is that heroin is not the most difficult to quit. Science marches on and a lot of drugs burn brighter and are more addictive.

    Junkie’s lives aren’t simply destroyed because they are channeled into the criminal justice system. After all, alcohol is legal and very, very cheap and very widely available and yet millions of people every year end up in the gutter due to their alcohol addiction, families destroyed, kids scarred for life.

    I’m well into my 50’s now and I can’t think of a single person I’ve ever known who became an addict (and didn’t quit) who didn’t lose a notch every year until they were in ruins. Sure, maybe someone I know is an addict and so high-functioning that I can’t tell. But all those people I do know believed they were high function too, until they weren’t.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: First, I appreciate the discussion. Sometimes the comments section in OTB manage to elevate the conversation rather than destroy it.

    Let me come back to something you said: “I’m still pretty much libertarian on the subject”. Let me ask a version of the question I always ask libertarians: can you give an example of a place that had all drugs freely available and was a good place?

    Remember why they are doing this experiment with free heroin in The Netherlands: it’s essentially in the hope that junkies will drug themselves to death out of sight and out of mind. Yes, as people, the legislators may hope that they will opt for treatment. But that’s not what pressured them into this step.

    And take the next logical libertarian step: legalization of all drugs. What’s to stop drug vendors from making more and more addictive drugs? With modern science I suspect it wouldn’t take long to craft something that gives a 70-80% physical addiction rate after a couple of weeks of use.

    It was revealed in the Tobacco settlement that several of the big companies had set up laboratories in other countries whose main goal was to make tobacco more addictive. Take a look at the WHO report on tobacco companies. You’ll find a lot about their efforts to make cigarettes more reliably addictive under “Safe Cigarettes” (Some joke, huh?). I can’t imagine that companies selling heroin and other drugs would be more ethical than tobacco companies.

  24. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: That’s odd. I know several people (friends and relatives) who have been to Amsterdam since 2010 (2015 being the last year visited) and not one of them knew of any of this occurring. They all had pleasant experiences and didn’t see “needles laying everywhere”. They all commented how much nicer it was there than say Chicago or New York. They stuck mostly to the common tourist areas so that might be a factor.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Matt: I’ve only been in the red light district 3 times or so, and that’s where I’ve seen the problems, although I have a number of Dutch friends and they have commented on it. I haven’t seen the needles littering the streets personally. I have seen the strung out prostitutes. But my comment on the needles is based on some of the reasons given by the government in electing to give free heroin to junkies.Those comments confirm they weren’t experiencing a bunch of high functioning heroin addicts that no one would guess were addicted and randomly said “Let’s give those guys free heroin!” They have been having a problem that has been getting worse over time and they have tried a number of initiatives to a) make The Netherlands less of a go-to place for junkies, and b) get as many junkies into treatment as possible. Whatever success these programs have had, it hasn’t been enough to tilt the tide back. To me, the free heroin program is essentially throwing up their hands and saying “There’s a significant problem population that engages in crime to support their habit, that will never be productive members of society and won’t try or succeed in getting clean. Let’s give them heroin, provide shelters and food, and let them slowly die out of sight.” I’m not even condemning the choice. It is what it is.

  26. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: Every article I’ve looked at on google has been saying the exact opposite of what you’re claiming. Not even the right wing websites I’ve gone to have contradicted the success story being told in all the other articles. Noticeable decreases in crime rates. A massive decrease in users under 40 and more.

    Could you actually link the article you’re talking about?

  27. Dutchmarbel says:

    Sorry, I hadn’t realized there was a long discussion about the Netherlands going on. I’m from 1962 and grew up in Amsterdam (I live 16 miles away from Amsterdam now, which is further away than I have lived since I was 3). And no, I have not experienced the increase either. Needles were a problem, hence the ‘trade for a clean one’ program. Drug tourism is a problem, but not too many prostitues. Au contraire: there are less and less windows in the red light district and the licensed sex workers complain (justifiably imho). Human trafficking is more of a problem than junkies prostituting themselves these days. HIV rate is low. I don’t know how many links I can put in a reply before it is seen as spam, but I found an English translation of a fairly recent article about the free heroin which was/is given to the group we think are hopelessly addicted.

  28. Dutchmarbel says:

    And here is a link to a pdf containing the 2017 country drug report – we are in or below the middle of the European countries with most stats, so I don’t think we’re doing too badly.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Dutchmarbel: I was actually going to reply to Matt above and link to the same article in Vice. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing that giving junkies free heroin reduces their desire to commit crimes. And the Netherlands has been admirably successful in reducing the heroin population from over 1M to 200K in a couple of decades. I sincerely hope most of that reduction is from people quitting, and not from dying or drifting, as addicts, to other countries. As I said above, I think the question of whether it is moral to give junkies free heroin is a tough one. It certainly seems to dramatiically reduce the crime problem, if done right (and the Dutch tend to do things thoroughly and correctly once they set their minds to it).

    Of course, I think the most obvious evidence that addicts bring crime and social problems (unless you give them their drugs for free and pay them welfare for food and shelter) is implicit in the Dutch decision to close half of the coffee-shops in Amsterdam, to close down 150 of the prostitute windows and the free heroin plus welfare program. If everything was running smoothly. This would not be necessary.

    A couple of quotes from the article you cited:

    Johan (not his real name) is a lot less jubilant about the program. In contrast to Ghalid, Johan is a success story.

    “Of course, it provides stability, but you also grow dependent on it. Look, the only thing you do when you’re in that program is smoke heroin. You wake up. You go to the clinic,” Johan said. “You smoke. You go home, sit on your couch high as a kite. And when the high’s over, it’s time to go back for a new hit. That’s how your life looks like when you’re in the program.”

    “Quitting is very hard,” Johan said. “Especially considering the stuff the clinic offers. Their heroin is so pure — everyone I know says it’s the best they’ve ever had. Nowhere in Europe you can find better stuff. The public may be content that al the junkies are gone, but over here, in these flats on the edge of the city, junkies still roam abundantly. What’s more, they feel like they’re stuck to it for the rest of their life and will never be able to get out of it.”

    Here’s another quote from the same article:

    Heroin: The Most Feared Drug
    In the Netherlands, heroin is so thoroughly feared that it even scares people under 40, who weren’t around to see the heroin epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s with their own adult eyes. In those decades, heroin abuse and the crime that came with it was about the biggest city nuisance thinkable. Every large train station in the Netherlands was sprawling with junkies.

    And the crime isn’t completely gone. Here’s a quote from a 2016 article:

    On March 10, a 23-year-old man’s severed head was displayed at the entrance of a hookah lounge in Amsterdam where drug dealers are known to gather. The rest of the victim’s body was found in a burned-out car on the other side of the city.

    It was the latest grisly episode in a conflict between rival gangs that authorities say has produced roughly 20 percent of all murders over the past three years in the Netherlands, a country that has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world.

    I’m not being Jeff Sessions here, as I think the Dutch have handled a horrible problem in a successful way.. I’m mostly responding to what I consider the typical Libertarian trope: that if you just made all drugs legal society would be dramatically better off and anyone who thinks different is an idiot.

    The Netherlands has come to terms with their drug problem. They have successfully lowered the heroin addiction rate. They have also come up with a program that keeps most of the remaining addicts quietly stoned in marginal neighborhoods, rather than stealing and prostituting. But they most certainly didn’t do this in a Libertarian fashion. It is with massive government effort and expense, with major outlays for treatment and the heroin maintenance program, while simultaneously highly regulating the coffee shops and prostitution. To me, the Dutch effort is proof of the success of a highly involved and powerful government, and a society and political community that values reality over castles-in-the-sky ramblings, rather than any validation of Libertarian ideas.

  30. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, we know the social dysfunction exists at least somewhere but apparently only you can find it. Having a passport with only The Bahamas on it, I can’t argue and won’t bother to use the gugle because FAKE NEWS. But OK — despite several people saying above that their experience in Amsterdam contradicts yours, OK!

    What bothers me about your voluminous posting on the subject is that I can’t figure out what policy you are advocating. You certainly have the passion but the target of actually describing a solution has been safe from you. And your single-minded condemnation of apparently every consciousness- altering substance EXCEPT those that have rich, powerful and traditional support — well — you’re terribly unrealistic.

    What are we supposed to make of a sentence like: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that giving junkies free heroin reduces their desire to commit crimes”? The plain meaning is that heroin creates a never-otherwise urge to steal, kill and rape in those who otherwise would not feel so.

    C’mon! You’re kidding me, right? No one posting here for as long as I remember reading your posts seriously is gonna tell me that shit. Right?

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: First, you caught a mistake. I meant to say “I’m not arguing that giving free heroin DOESN’T reduce their desire to commit crimes.” I think that is clear from the rest of my post. For instance, farther down I said “They have also come up with a program that keeps most of the remaining addicts quietly stoned in marginal neighborhoods, rather than stealing and prostituting.”

    As for “only (I) can find it”, I’ve linked to my sources, quoted from them and stated that I think the Dutch governments efforts in closing half the coffee shops, reducing the number of prostitute windows, and doling out free heroin are self evidently done in response to problems.

    As for my “single-minded condemnation of apparently every consciousness- altering substance EXCEPT those that have rich, powerful and traditional support”, well, you may be surprised by my past exploits.

    The point of my postings here is to challenge the belief that simply legalizing or even decriminalizing drugs have no bad effects. I think the Dutch effort proves that – they have spent decades and a whole lot of money while continuously adjusting their regulations to get where they are today. As I’ve said in other threads, when it comes to non-addictive drugs I feel that a liberal policy is good – decriminalize or legalize – but only if it is followed by conservative policies in implementation – watch closely what unexpected trends emerge and regulate to mitigate the bad ones. As to highly addictive drugs, my opinion has changed from my late teen years and early twenties. I think decriminalization should only be done along with extensive efforts to get addicts clean, and I think legalization is a horrible mistake. I can’t imagine the damage that, say, a Phillip Morris would do if they started trying to convince teenagers to take up opioid use.

  32. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: Fair enough. Everyone needs something I s’pose and terror over substances that have effects on neurons happens to be yours. Myself, I blame aliens. Beaming their prostitution rays and scattering needles from their flying saucers. Ought to be a law!

  33. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: Oh, and by the way, if you have been working so hard in order to convince me that ‘simply legalizing or even decriminalizing drugs have no bad effect’ then you’ve wasted your time. I agree.

    My point was that making certain substances (not others) illegal turns people who would not be criminals into criminals. And once you arrest a criminal — NO PROBLEM!

    And you seem to be advocating for such a stupid policy.

    Every ‘solution’ to social dysfunction carries the seeds of another problem. Mature people realize they skirt this problem for that solution until the table shifts and some other arrangement must be made. Waiting for maturity from you.

  34. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC: if you read everything I posted and came away with the idea that I was advocating “lock everyone up” then… well there is obviously no point in continuing.

  35. Dutchmarbel says:

    @MarkedMan: In that case we are mostly in agreement I think. Yes, legalizing all drugs is not what I would recommend; if only because the market would indeed aim at increasing the user base. But, as I said in my initial comment, that is not the same as decriminalizing the users (addicts). Lock everybody up who is addicted and caught does no good, you have to try to prevent people from starting drugs and help the ones who are addicted. We have very intense programs to inform all youth about drugs and free rehabilitation programs for instance.there are several monitoring organizations who keep track of policies and how well they work. The free heroin program is only for people who are almost certainly incapable of giving it up, hence the requirements before you can be added to the program (that is the problem that the addicts in it have, they feel ‘given up by society’). Personally I would recommend making the ‘lighter’ drugs completely legal – alcohol is more of a problem than cannabis. Even than there would be crime though, especially if neighbouring countries are harsher.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    I agree with you, and the Dutch seems to have negotiated the tightrope about as well as anybody. And I also agree about the “lighter” drugs, provided your community is not the only one to do it. Having a whole state or multiple surrounding states lessens the Mecca-like quality

  37. Danny Mann says:

    Unfortunately they will be losing ppl on drug overdoses not to mention the drug culture will cause lots of grief for a lot of innocent people.