NORML Norway: Cannabis law reform in Norway

History:

Normal, the Norwegian chapter of the marijuana legalisation organization NORML, was conceived in 1994 on the precursor to the public internet, a BBS, by a group of people who did not believe in the exaggerations regarding the dangers of cannabis propagated by the government and mass media.

Since 2013, Normal has rebuilt it’s organization and strives to become a serious organization and political force in Norwegian drug policy.

Normal occupied an office in Hjelmsgt. 3, an activist site in Oslo, until 2014, when the building was damaged in a fire. Since then, Normal has shared offices with The association for humane drug policy (FHN), then in a local startup hub The Kasbah. Currently we are sharing office with the Association for Safer Drug Policies and EmmaSofia, an organisation for evidence based psychedelics politics.

Who are we:

Normal is run primarily by it’s board as seen on the picture above.

Our chair and spokesperson is André Nilsen. André has substantial experience from organizational and humanitarian work and dedicated to move society towards responsible cannabis regulations.

What we do:

Our objectives include monitoring the development towards legalisation and decriminalization of cannabis in other countries, and participating in debate and conception of drug policy at home. In additon, we strive to be a resource for cannabis users and work for the rights of innocent victims of punitive policies or intrusive and undemocratic government sanctions.

Some examples of what we do:

  • We represent Norwegian cannabis users in Parliament hearings

  • Facilitate research on cannabis. We have recently launched an report in English about the negative consequences of control in the enforcement of current Norwegian law regarding cannabis

  • Publish articles in our magazine På Høy Tid (It’s high time)

  • Frame different aspects of cannabis in Norwegian media

  • Organise open gatherings and presentations where local people can participate

  • Working on setting up local activist groups around the country

  • Answer a steady flow of questions coming in from cannabis users

Normal Norway would like to get in touch with international cannabis activists, to help us stay informed and participate in the international movement. Your ideas and input is welcome! Drop a line to post@normalnorge.no

Drug policies in Scandinavia

Scandinavian drug policy is fairly divided. The temperance movement has traditionally been strong in Sweden and Norway, but not in Denmark, which is relatively permissive in regards to cannabis. Denmark has had open sales of cannabis from stalls in Christiania in Copenhagen since the 1970s, and municipal authorities in Copenhagen have tried to legalise and regulate sales and production. Medical cannabis production and prescription have recently became legal in Denmark.

Sweden, on the other hand, has one of the most punitive zero-tolerance policies in Europe. The country has only recently, and silently, introduced limited harm reduction measures after international pressure.

Norway is somewhere inbetween. At the height of the American drug war, in 1984, Norway’s right-wing government implemented the maximum prison sentence putting drug offences on par with murder. But while we have the most punitive laws in Scandinavia on paper, the country has become somewhat more liberal than Sweden since the mid-1980s. When Norway started implementing harm reduction measures, such measures were seen as encouraging drug use and were unheard of in Sweden.

Possession for personal use of less than 15 grams of cannabis is usually resolved with a fine, though this is the more serious kind of fine that will appear on a criminal record. These practices are based on recommendations from the Attorney General first given in 1998, after the Supreme Court gave signals to lesser courts that fines should be used more frequently, starting in the mid-1980s. Penalties on paper have not been changed to reflect those actually given. Politicians are afraid of what harmonising laws would signal to the public and also of public opinion.

Medical cannabis is technically legal in Norway, but it is extremely difficult to get hold of, and doctors either don’t know much about it, or become downright hostile towards patients who are seeking treatment.

Drug reform in Norway - Decriminalising all drug use

Harm reduction has become an even more hot topic as a result of activism from a number of associations, and former foreign minister and father of former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, Thorvald Stoltenberg, is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Strong voices among academics such as Willy Pedersen, a professor of sociology at the University of Oslo and Paul Larsson at the Police College officially support legalisation. So did recently deceased and internationally renowned professor of criminology, Nils Christie.

As a result of years of activism, politicians finally listened. In 2017 December the Parliament voted to decriminalise drug use, thus Norway is to become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs as it focuses on treatment rather than punishment. The new law will become effective in 2020 or 2021. Normal Norway is playing an active role in the preparation process by giving our input in parliament hearing rounds.


Support the cause!

Norway is an important battleground against repressive Swedish cannabis policy, and if you want to support us with an earmarked donation, it would be most welcome. We need contributions to participate in international conferences and organisations, publicise our cause, cover administrative expenses like website, email, office rent etc.