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Health minister proposes drug decriminalisation

20.01.2021 - 12:49
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Guðmundur Bergkvist - RÚV
The health minister’s parliamentary schedule for the new session of Alþingi includes a bill that would change Iceland’s drugs law. The bill proposes allowing the sale and possession of small quantities of currently-illegal drugs for personal use.

The suggestion for a bill to change the law on drugs (65/1974), decriminalising small amounts for personal use, was today added to the Samráðsgátt public consultation website. Under the current law, the trade and possession of all quantities of all illegal drugs is a punishable crime. That will change if Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s bill passes into law.

The document on Samráðsgátt states that the main proposed changes are: 

  • The trade of small amounts for personal use will not be a criminal offence. 
  • The health minister would, under the rules, decide what quantities of each drug would count as ‘for personal use’ based on average personal usage. 
  • The police would no longer have the right to confiscate amounts of drugs smaller than the set limits from individuals aged 18 or over. 

The consultation document states that recent decades have seen a global shift in opinion on drugs and debate on whether or not the so-called war on drugs has been useful. Drug users are increasingly viewed as patients rather than criminals. “The effect of this opinion shift has also been felt here in Iceland and decriminalisation of personal amounts has been widely discussed in society in recent years." 

The coalition agreement between the current governing parties specifically mentions preventative measures and public health, and the online document says it is important to emphasise damage limitation and reducing the scale of the drug problem. Public consultation ends online at the end of this month. 

A similar bill was put to Alþingi in October 2019, but this is the first time decriminalisation is proposed by a government minister. 

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