Norway Wants to Decriminalize Heroin Smoking

The Norwegian government said Friday it wants to decriminalize the smoking of heroin as a harm reduction measure, Agence-France Presse reported. Smoking heroin is less dangerous than injecting it, and the move could reduce the number of overdoses, officials said.

"The number of fatal overdoses is too high and I would say it's shameful for Norway," said Health Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere. "The way addicts consume their drugs is central to the question of overdoses. My view is that we should allow people to smoke heroin since injecting it is more dangerous," he said.

According to the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (SIRUS), heroin overdoses accounted for 30% of 262 fatal overdoses in 2011. Only 168 people died traffic accidents that year.

The city of Oslo has opened a supervised injection site in a bid to reduce overdoses, but decriminalizing heroin smoking would also help, said Stoere. User currently can’t smoke at the supervised injection site.

"This isn't about some kind of legalization of heroin but about being realistic," he said."Those who are in the unfortunate situation of injecting themselves in a drug room should be able to inhale. It is less dangerous, you consume less and the risk of contracting a disease is lower," he added.

"It's a paradox that you can't smoke heroin when you can inject it, since the first method is less dangerous than the second," SIRUS researcher Astrid Skretting told AFP. "But the culture of injecting which provides a more immediate effect than smoking seems deeply rooted in Norway and it's not certain that a decriminalization will lead to a radical change in behavior," she suggested.

The Norwegian government is set to unveil its latest plan for fighting drug addiction next week. Stoere said the heroin smoking decrim plan has the backing of the center-left government.

– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.



  1. Anonymous on

    Ahhh dude I’m pretty sure decriminalizing drugs is the opposite of what a nanny state does. No offense but you sound like an idiot.

  2. BigBudAl on

    Prohibition is the problem, if they had never outlawed smoking opium how many people do you think would take heroin ? Prohibition is what creates the stronger derivatives.

  3. Anonymous on

    We should be copying the social democracies of this planet like sweden, norway, and the like.

    They have replaced us as the best societies on the planet.

    Decriminalize and regulate, fund the social programs through the regulation to help those suffering from all forms of drug addiction and dependence.

    That’s how you make a difference

    Not waste tax payer money on enforcement and punishment.

    Only makes more jobs for police and correctional staff.

    These police and correctional staff could get jobs in the social programs instead. Way safer, and your doing better work.


  4. Malcolm Kyle on

    Transform’s outstanding book titled, After the War on Drugs: Blueprints for Regulation, provides specific proposals for how drugs could be regulated in the real world. The book is available for free online. If you would like to read it then here it is:

    And here’s some info on the Swiss Heroin-Assisted-Treatment program (HAT) —legally regulated (pure) heroin acquired through government channels.

    At the end of 2009, 1356 patients were undergoing HAT at 21 outpatient centers and in 2 prisons.

    HAT is now being carried out at centres in Basle, Bern, Biel, Brugg, Burgdorf, Chur, Geneva, Horgen, Lucerne, Olten, Reinach, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thun, Winterthur, Wetzikon, Zug, Zürich and in two prisons Oberschöngrün (canton Solthurn) and Realtà (canton Graubünden).


    In many cases, patients’ physical and mental health has improved, their housing situation has become considerably more stable, and they have gradually managed to find employment. Numerous participants have managed to reduce their debts. In most cases, contacts with addicts and the drug scene have decreased. Consumption of non-prescribed substances declined significantly in the course of treatment.

    Dramatic changes have been seen in the situation regarding crime. While the proportion of patients who obtained their income from illegal or borderline activities at the time of enrollment was 70%, the figure after 18 months of HAT was only 10%.

    Each year, between 180 and 200 patients discontinue HAT. Of these patients, 35-45% are transferred to methadone maintenance, and 23-27% to abstinence-based treatment.

    The average costs per patient-day at outpatient treatment centers in 1998 came to CHF 51. The overall economic benefit – based on savings in criminal investigations and prison terms and on improvements in health – was calculated to be CHF 96. After deduction of costs, the net benefit is CHF 45 per patient-day.

  5. mad matt on

    The evolution of the Nanny State, soon you won’t be able to chew your own food.

  6. Anonymous+ on

    Don’t attempt to save lives by legalizing it one way and not another. It won’t make people stop. Those who inject will continue to do so and those who smoke it will continue to do what they do.