Cannabis in Norway: Lies, Fines and Urine Tests
Despite its supposed representation as a liberal haven, it seems that Norway has some rather conservative stances on the topic of cannabis, even though they claim otherwise.
In a Huffington Post article, Chairwoman and Leader of the Norwegian NORML Ester Nafstad explained the various issues that her country has in dealing with cannabis offenders.
Firstly, Nafstad explained that in a meeting in 2015, the Norwegian Commission on Narcotic Drugs decided that, as an alternative to prison sentences and fines, some young drug offenders will be ‘offered’ testing programs. Nafstad explains;
The programs include regular urine controls. Repeatedly failing controls can lead back to prison, and only one third of those who choose the programs complete them successfully. For people between 15 and 18 caught with cannabis, urine control contracts are now the recommended sanction. They were marketed as “voluntary drug contracts,” but have since been dubbed the more palatable “youth contracts,” after health workers in Bergen complained that young people were being coerced to sign.
Hardly the most appealing prospect for a teenager to urinate in front of a stranger for a whole year. To exacerbate the issue, if any of these children fail any of the tests, they will be reported, prosecuted and receive a fine and a criminal record. Even health workers have admitted that they are uncomfortable with reporting their patients, because of the strict repercussions.
Some teenagers on this “program” have also reported taking more dangerous, synthetic drugs as an alternative to cannabis, in order to avoid detection in the tests.
Heavy handed Police in Norway are reportedly telling parents of the children arrested on drug charges that they will be reported to Child Protective Services should they choose a fine over the testing programs. “Voluntary” tests you say?
Nafstad sums up the situation aptly in this quote;
How any of this can be consistent with government claims that treatment is and should be voluntary, is a mystery. When people first hear of “alternatives to punishment” what comes to mind is replacing punishment with something more humane. Not forced treatment and intrusive controls where the government reserves the right to revert back to a punitive sanction. It is worth mentioning that UN recommendations include banning forced treatment.
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