7.8 Current debates and reforms
Youth health is often discussed in the context of policies and initiatives for the entire population. Norway does not have a separate youth law, and youth are judicially (and most often politically) addressed as either children or adults.
Current ,ongoing, and suggested new initiatives in youth health policy are described in the Government’s strategy for young people’s health 2016 – 2021 [#Ungdomshelse – regjeringens strategi for ungdomshelse 2016-2021].
A new digital platform for youth health [DIGI-UNG] is under development. The aim is to provide easily accessible and quality-assured health information, guidance and services to youth through a comprehensive digital offering across sectors that contribute to coping and self-help.
The 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 in 2018 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 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.