7.8 Current debates and reforms
In 2018 the Solberg Government initiated a drug reform process with the goal of transferring responsibility for responses to the use and possession of illegal drugs for personal use from the justice sector to the health sector. A committee was set up to prepare for the implementation of the reform and handed over an Official Norwegian Report on Drug reform [NOU 2019: 26 Rusreform – fra straff til hjelp] to the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security on 19. December 2019. On 19. February 2021 the Government submitted a proposal to the Parliament for an amendment to the penal code largely based on the committee's proposals. Use and possession of illicit drugs would continue to be illegal, but such use and possiession of smaller quantities for personal use would no longer be punishable. This would apply to purchase, use, possession and storage of smaller quantities of illicit drugs for personal use. However, Norway's then main opposition Labour Party rejected the plan. Although the Labour Party is in principal in favour of removing penalties for heavy drug users, it is against decriminalising drug use for the wider population.
The current Government led by Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party in coalition with the Centre Party has initiated work on a new prevention and treatment reform. The aim will be to prevent and reduce the negative consequences of drug use, both for the individual and for society. This will involve a national program for drug prevention work among children and young people, supporting municipalities to employ outreach methods to get in contact with particularly at-risk youth. The Government will review criminal measures targeting the use and possession of drugs for personal use by people with extensive substance abuse problems.