Beware the Swedish Narconazis

By John Yates

Prohibitionist fanatics have taken over Sweden and are preparing to invade the rest of Europe!

Sweden has the most repressive drug laws in the European Union, and since becoming a member in 1995 has been enthusiastically advocating that the rest of the EU adopt repressive Swedish laws. The Swedes hold their own country up as a glowing example of a successful repressive policy, yet close examination of the situation inside Sweden shows that the repressive “Swedish Model” is not as effective as they have been claiming abroad. In fact, Sweden is a classic example of the failure of repressive and prohibitive drugpolicies.

An Unpleasant Transformation

Sweden is often thought of as a permissive and tolerant country, and the average Swede as sophisticated and broad minded. This may have been once true, but Sweden has gone through a radical and unpleasant transformation over the last twenty years, and is now the most intolerant and repressive country in Europe. Their once famous open-minded sophistication has given way to ignorant narrow minded prejudice. The average Swede is likely to be as permissive as any right wing arch-conservative from the American deep south.

I lived in Sweden in the late sixties and there was a pretty good scene there then. Stockholm was like one big love-in, with beautiful people and good vibes everywhere. Swedes were fun loving and non-judgmental. The mood of the times was “if you like it, do it, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” The main park in Stockholm, Kungstradgarden, was full of hippies and pot was available everywhere. Although cannabis was illegal, the official attitude was one of tolerant acceptance. The atmosphere was cool and the police were friendly. It was very similar to Holland, and it was sometimes hard to tell if you were in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark or in the Kungstradgarden in Stockholm.

Extreme Prohibitionist Hysteria


Unfortunately, things changed for the worse during the seventies. An extreme prohibitionist movement called the RNS (Riksforbundet Narkotikafritt Samhalle: National Union for a Narcotics Free Society) had a few well connected members in the government and police who managed to engineer a narcotics scare. RNS sympathizers within the police masterminded a crackdown on the open scene, seeing a chance to increase their own power and importance. This was combined with a scare campaign in the media, led by the few RNS sympathizers in the government.

This was very successful, and within a very short time Sweden had changed completely. The hysteria whipped up in the media had created an atmosphere where no politician who wanted his career to continue would dare oppose the RNS fanatics. Instead, the police hard-liners were duly rewarded with more power and influence, as the politicians competed with each other to show who was the most “hard on drugs.”

The anti-drug laws have got progressively more severe over the years, and are now the hardest in Europe. Police give drug violations top priority, and Sweden is the only country in the European Union that has criminalized drug use as well as possession. Passing a joint counts as trafficking and carries a mandatory prison sentence. Drug violations are also regularly given harsher sentences than other crimes, including crimes of violence.

Police have the power to apprehend anyone they even think looks like they are under the influence of a drug, take them to a police station and force them to undergo blood and urine tests. A positive result means arrest and either a fine, a prison sentence or commitment to a forced treatment programme. This could easily affect a foriegn tourist in Sweden, as any kind of high spirited or unconventional behaviour in the presence of a policeman could result in your stay there being a lot longer than expected.

No Dissent

Today, Sweden is entirely dominated by the RNS. The media regularly run the most incredible horror stories about narcotics, especially cannabis, which they have singled out as one of the most dangerous drugs. The authorities have a monopoly on information and there is no room for dissent.

The situation is similar to that in the USA during the McCarthyite anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950’s. It would be professional suicide for anyone in an official position to question the RNS publicly, so of course hardly anyone ever does. What happened when someone was foolish enough to do this was reported in Dagens Nyheter, a leading Swedish newspaper:

There is such a strong unity between organizations and authorities that dissenting opinions on drug policy are not allowed. Alec Carlberg, President of RFHL (National Union for Helping Drug Abusers) says “If one even dares whisper an opinion that is in the least other than the official line, one is immediately maligned as a ?legalizer’ and suddenly you are excluded from the debate, invitations to lecture stop, and you can no longer take part in study trips. This is a threat to sound discussion in Sweden.”

One who has personally experienced this is Lief Lenke, professor of criminology at Stockholm University, who says “At a conference organized by the National Health Institute I dared raise a couple of questions: If it is credible to assert that cannabis is as dangerous as heroin, and if it is right that Sweden refuses to give clean syringes to addicts when even the WHO recommends it. There was immediately a very unpleasant uproar. People whistled, shouted, and interrupted. I was called a ?legalizer’. I had been invited to speak on European narcotics policy at a meeting of Sweden’s social services officers. They telephoned to say they had heard certain things about me and had chosen another speaker. Now the Social Services Department has informed me that I may no longer sit as Sweden’s representative on the Council of Europe Committee for narcotic questions.”

When the director of the National Health Institute, Jakob Lindberg, was asked about the above he said “Everyone should know that we are completely, fully and uncompromisingly against drugs. There is great unity on this in Sweden.”

The Swedish Model

The countries of the European Union have been moving towards decriminalization and even legalization for some time now. The recent liberalization of German laws is only part of a general trend that has been taking place over the entire EU. In 1995, the European Parliament voted to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use.

Swedish police have the power to apprehend anyone they even think looks like they are under the influence of a drug, take them to a police station and force them to undergo blood and urine tests. A positive result means arrest.

Unfortunately, Sweden is now a member of the EU and has determined to carry its crusade against drugs into Europe. Any attempt at liberalization will be fiercely opposed by Sweden. Their aim is to stop and reverse the trend towards legalization and to this end they are using the resources of the Swedish state and all their political power in the European Parliament. Swedish Euro-MP’s are forming anti-liberalization pressure groups and actively lobbying for the adoption of repressive Swedish laws.

In 1994 Sweden was instrumental in forming the European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD), whose entire budget is paid for by the Swedish state. ECAD was formed specifically to oppose the European Cities on Drug Policy, a union of over 25 European cities who oppose prohibition and have implemented harm reduction policies in their own municipalities.

The general secretary of ECAD, fanatical Swedish drug warrior Ake Setreus, said in an interview that the communist Chinese policy of sending prostitutes and drug abusers to forced labour camps is an effective way to fight drugs. Sweden has long had a policy of committing drug abusers to forced treatment centers.

On June 26 – 27, 1997 some 100 delegates from 40 European cities met in Paris for the 4th annual Mayors’ Conference of the European Cities Against Drugs. The delegates enthusiastically endorsed the repressive Swedish Model. Amongs the resolutions adopted were:

“There can be no other goal than a drug-free Europe. Such a goal is neither utopian, nor impossible.

“Commercial outlets for narcotic drugs, including coffee shops andother open markets or drug scenes in European cities, must be closed immediately. Police must be given the authority to act in order to stop the open commercial outlets quickly and effectively.

“It would be important to issue guidelines enabling European states to implement a legislation aiming at prohibiting consumption of narcotic drugs and giving the police more effective possibilities to discover and stop drug abuse, primarily among young people.”

The Swedes are always well represented at international drug and harm reduction conferences, where they do their best to oppose and discredit any talk of decriminalization of cannabis or liberalization of drug laws. They distinguished themselves in the spring of 1995 at the harm reduction conference in Florence, by savagely attacking speakers and giving the impression that they were not there to engage in meaningful dialogue, but to beat down any liberal arguments.

According to the Finnish periodical “Nordisk Alkohol Tidskrift”, many delegates were clearly upset by the behavior of the Swedes and found it hard to take them seriously. Unfortunately some politicians and legislators do take them seriously and this could have dire consequencesfor the entire EU.

Swedish government funds are being used to finance anti-drug propaganda campaigns in European media, including ads on MTV Europe and in foreign newspapers. Foreign politicians and officials visiting Sweden are regaled with glowing accounts of Sweden’s success in its hard line “war on drugs” and then persuaded to support the introduction of what they call the “Swedish Model” to the rest of Europe.

The Swedish Reality

The reality of the Swedish model is very different from the propaganda of the Swedish government. Their draconian laws are not having any effect on drug availability or use. Swedish Television News reported on December 5, 1995, that amphetamine is now so common that it is cheaper than alcohol.


The newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on December 8, 1995, that heroin is pouring over the border from Norway into western Sweden, as Eastern European gangs open up new routes to the lucrative Swedish market. According to the National Health Institute, 20% of Swedish young people in the major cities use drugs, mostly cannabis.4 The credibility gap between young people and the authorities is widening as the repression and propaganda become more extreme. The Bureau for Alcohol and Narcotics Information reported in May 1997 that “alarming numbers” of young people do not believe the official propaganda and have a positive view of drugs.

Police have targeted the rave culture and this has resulted in police becoming objects of hate. Undercover police infiltrate raves and pull in anyone they think looks like they have taken a drug for compulsory blood and urine tests. Raves are often raided and ugly scenes have occurred. Swedish Television News reported from a rave in May this year where the ravers fought back, and in the ensuing battle a police car was demolished. Sweden must be the only country in the world where looking unduly happy, laughing or dancing too energetically can get you arrested, with the possible exception of some Islamic Fundamentalist states.

One area where Swedish drug laws are having a great effect is crime. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on June 2, 1995, that drug use and violence are escalating out of control, and that Sweden is heading for a situation similar to that in the USA. A report by the Criminal Care Ministry (Kriminalvardsstyrelsen) from January 1995 says that serious crime has risen 25% in Sweden since 1990. A report from the Criminological Institute of Stockholm University in September 1995 states that adult crime in Sweden has risen 80% since 1975. In 1975 the drug laws were much more liberal than they are today.

The situation in the cities is becoming untenable. Crimes of violence in the Greater Stockholm area rose by 54% between the years 1987-1993, according to Johannes Knutsson, a researcher at the Police High School in a July 1995 report in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. The crimes that have increased most are robbery and aggravated robbery.

The Swedish Police Authority (Rikspolisstyrelse) reported in March of 1996 that Swedish police exceeded their budget by 1 billion kronor last year and that they are being swamped by rising crime. The amount of solved crime is falling and the backlog of crime still waiting investigation is rising. The categories of crime that police cannot keep up with are crimes of violence, narcotics offenses and economic crime.

In April of this year police and public prosecutors were called to a crisis meeting to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation. The desperate tone of the meeting was summed up by Christer Van Der Kwast of Stockholm county public prosecutors office who said in a statement to the press: “We are very disturbed by the situation, especially as it is not a question of small time crime, but crimes of violence. We are sitting on a time bomb.”

The Minister of Justice, Laila Freivalds, said to the press in June 1995 that there is a clear connection between the rise in violent crime in Sweden and the availability of illegal drugs and weapons. Unfortunately, none of this prevents the fanatical Swedish Narconazis from holding their country up as example for the rest of Europe to follow.

Knowledge is Freedom

As Europe is the best hope the world has of instituting sane drug laws, the actions of Sweden represent a threat that is out of proportion to their relatively small size. There is a very real danger that they will succeed in imposing the same totalitarian narcofascism on the rest of Europe that they have imposed on their own unfortunate country.

The best way of fighting the Swedish Prohibitionists is by information. They should be confronted with the total failure of their prohibitionist policies, and while this will make no impression at all on the Swedish demagogues, it may prevent them from fooling others that the “Swedish Model” actually works.finis


The European Cities Against Drugs: Stockholm City Hall, S-105 35 Sweden; tel 46-8-785-9000; fax 46-8-785-9466; email [email protected];

European Cities on Drug Policy: Niddastrasse 64,

D-60329 Frankfurt am Main; tel 49-69-233-013 or 49-69-233-190; fax 49-69-239-478; email [email protected];

Contact author John Yates by email at: [email protected].