Three years ago, Thor Erik Forsberg urged the government’s drug policy committee to take steps to decriminalize the use and possession of small quantities of cannabis.
While the committee refrained from commenting on the issue of legalization, it did propose looking into treatment as an alternative to prosecution, in line with the politician's recommendations.
Now, in an interview with newspaper Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad, Forsberg has admitted using cannabis regularly over a period of several years.
The 32-year-old MP said he had viewed the drug as a replacement for anti-depressive medicines.
”I smoked cannabis because it gave me a medicinal effect. I relaxed and was able to sleep. My work days were long and I was only sleeping three to four hours a night for several months,” said Forsberg.
He said he had suffered from anxiety and sleeping problems since the death of his partner eight years ago.
Forsberg said he had also been deeply affected by the slaughter of 69 people on Utøya last summer. While he was not on the island at the time, he had a lot contact with survivors and victims’ families after the massacre.
This, allied with a death in family, led him to break down during a trip to the United States in February with the parliament’s labour affairs committee.
”Today I view the break-down as a breakthrough. I understood that this couldn’t go on,” said Forsberg.
”Now I’m going to a psychiatrist and – as well as having a great family and good friends – it has benefited me to talk to professionals.”
Forsberg said he had not used narcotics for three weeks and had now abandoned drugs for good, admitting he had also tried out other substances many years ago.
The popular politician said he was keen to stay on in parliament, but the Labour Party’s nominating committee for the Østfold region says he is no longer welcome, leaving him off its list of 20 parliamentary candidates.
”The Storting is the country’s law-making assembly, and as a matter of principle we view this [Forsberg’s drug use] as not being compatible with a parliamentary nomination,” committee leader Arne Øren told Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad.
Not everybody wants Forsberg to lose his seat, however. The party’s local youth branch (AUF) said it still viewed the MP as its main candidate in the nomination battle.
”It’s incomprehensible that the nominating committee has chosen to completely shut Thor Erik out of the process without consulting its members. He still has a job to do in the Storting,” said Amalie Henriksen, deputy head of AUF in Østfold.