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Norway opposition torpedoes plan to decriminalise drug use

Norway's main opposition Labour Party on Friday rejected a government plan to decriminalise the personal use of drugs in small quantities, saying the measure could incite young people to experiment with narcotics.

Norway opposition torpedoes plan to decriminalise drug use
A file photo of a marijuana plant. Photo: AFP

Under the centre-right coalition government’s proposal submitted in February, both the possession and use of small quantities of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, would no longer have been punishable under the criminal code, but users would still have had to seek help.

The ruling party however needed backing from the opposition in parliament in order for the bill to be approved.

Although the Labour Party is in principal in favour of doing away with penalties for heavy drug users, it is against decriminalising drug use for the wider population.

Proponents of the bill argued that criminal prosecution of drug users can be counterproductive as it deters those with abuse problems from seeking help, makes it more difficult for relatives to detect problems and stigmatises an already vulnerable demographic.

Although the bill was rejected on Friday, negotiations could still lead to a different text decriminalising heavy drug use being adopted.

Despite having one of the highest living standards in Europe, Norway – and other Nordic countries – have seen higher numbers of drug-related deaths per capita than the rest of Europe.

In recent years, 260 people have died annually from a drug overdose in Norway, according to a report published last year by the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

READ MORE: Norway seeks to decriminalise recreational drug use

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POLITICS

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday, where the pair signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation between the two countries. 

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited Downing Street on Friday and met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the pair signed a declaration of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Britain is a good neighbour and close ally. We have a long tradition of close cooperation. The British are now outside the EU, and bilateral cooperation is becoming even more important than before,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website

The joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation outlines defence and security, the climate and environment, research and innovation and education and culture as issues the two countries wish to cooperate on in the future. 

Støre’s visit was the first bilateral meeting of the countries’ PMs since Brexit. The pair also discussed the green shift, the war in Ukraine and defence. 

Støre also arranged a round table conference on energy, the climate and business with the UK Minister of Trade, Kwasi Kwarteng, and a number of representatives from Norwegian and British firms. 

“The green transition is important for our two countries. I spoke about our great ambitions for offshore wind, and this is one of many areas where Norway and the United Kingdom can cooperate more,” Støre said. 

Earlier this week, the Norwegian government announced that it would build 1,500 offshore wind turbines by 2040

Last year, the UK and Norway signed a post-Brexit trade deal, which the Norwegian government said was the largest free trade agreement the country had entered into outside of its arrangement with the European Economic Area. 

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