Oslo and Bergen could give away free heroin

Norway’s two largest cities could start giving away heroin for free to hardened drug addicts, in an effort to reduce the country’s death rate from overdose, the second highest in Europe after Estonia.

Oslo and Bergen could give away free heroin
A woman injecting heroin on the streets of Vancouver. Photo: Canada/Flickr
After the Labour Party took control of the two cities in last month’s local elections, it is expected to start trialing the policy in both cities, Aftenposten newspaper said on Friday. 
“We have agreed not to prevent a trial of heroin-assisted treatment for the heaviest abusers, if the Bergen health authority wants to begin such an effort again,” Harald Schjelderup (Ap), the newly appointed Chief Commissioner for Bergen told VG.
At the same time, Labour’s Christian Democrat and Liberal allies in the city’s council are willing to back the opening of special safe rooms where heroin addicts and smoke and inject heroin and other drugs. 
In Oslo, 64-year-old Marianne Borgen, who was appointed mayor on Friday night, is expected to bring in a new drugs treatment policy. 
The policy agreement Labour has agreed with the Green Party and the Socialist Left party opened the way for a trial of heroin treatment in a strictly controlled trial. 
But this must be backed by Norway’s national parliament, which in 2012 rejected a motion to allow treatment with heroin. 
According to a 2014 EU drugs report, Norway at 76 per million per year, has the second highest rate of death from drug overdose in the world after Estonia. 
In Estonia the rate have soared to 190 per million from below 80 since 2008 because of an explosion in the use of the potent synthetic opioid Fentanyl. 


Norwegian city announces plan to stop naming streets after men

The city council in Bergen has proposed that streets, squares and municipal buildings no longer be named after men apart from in "very special cases". The plan has provoked opposition in some quarters.

Norwegian city announces plan to stop naming streets after men
Bergen harbour. Photo by Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash

The council will take a final vote on the proposal next week.

Katrine Nødtvedt, City Councillor for Culture, Diversity and Gender Equality in Bergen, said that the drastic proposal was needed to get a message across.

“Previously you would work on the basis that you would choose a female name if you could think of anybody suitable. Instead, we should be actively working to correct the gender balance,” she told newspaper VG.

According to the city council’s website, the change in naming conventions is a part of “Project Female Name”, which will look at street names and women’s history.

The city councillor believes the proposal should get the go-ahead.

“There has long been a political majority in Bergen to promote women and name more streets and public places after women,” Nødtvedt told Dagbladet newspaper.

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In 2018, the city council in Bergen decided that the municipality should increase the number of places number after women. There were 229 streets in Bergen named after people at the time, of which 28 were female names while 201 were male names.

“When you see that it is the result after 950 years of Bergen’s history, I think many understand that drastic measures are needed,” Nødtvedt said.

She also explained that the city wouldn’t be closing the door on naming places after men altogether.

“At the same time, we allow for very special cases where there are men who has a special connection to a place in the city, and then we will be able to assess it,” the councillor said.

However, the plan has provoked a strong backlash in some quarters.

“Decisions that force equality at street name level, I think is just sad and a little pathetic,” the former mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, told VG.

“If we are to succeed in achieving gender equality, then it won’t be measured by 50/50 names of streets and places on the back of a forced decision,” she added.