Norway has not legalized recreational cannabis but typically possession of less than 15 grams is punished with a simple fine.
Furthermore, in 2017 the Norwegian parliament voted in favor of a measure to decriminalize drug use, shifting the focus of drug policies towards treatment. In February 2021, Norway’s government proposed a bill to decriminalize possession, under which possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis would no longer be punishable under the law. But just two months later, the move was scuttled by Norway’s main opposition party.
Penalties for cannabis offenses in Norway
Though it failed for now, the entire decriminalization process is perhaps counterintuitive for a country that has what are on paper quite strict drug laws, that do not differentiate between hard and soft drugs. Under Norwegian law, anyone who is convicted of manufacturing, importing, or trafficking in illegal drugs can be imprisoned for up to 2 years, while in severe cases, the penalty can reach up to 15 years imprisonment.
Regardless, minor cannabis violations like consumption or possession are typically punished with a simple fine.
Medical cannabis in Norway
Since 2018, the Norwegian Medicines Agency allows doctors approved by the agency to prescribe medical cannabis for patients on a case-by-case basis.
According to the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the doctor must send an application for approval to the agency, but does not need to contact the Norwegian Directorate of Health for approval.
The agency does not have an official list of health conditions that are eligible for treatment with medical cannabis, but the doctor is required to provide justification for why conventional pharmaceuticals won’t suffice for the patient, and their assessment of why the patient may benefit from medical cannabis.
As of today, the only cannabis-based medication available for patients in Norway is Sativex, though patients can apply to use products like Marinol and Cesamet. It is unclear how many patients actually receive medical cannabis in the country, but the program is typically described as being very restrictive, with little to no actual access to cannabis.
According to Prohibition Partners, approved patients in Norway have used medical cannabis to treat conditions such as debilitating pain or discomfort, cancer, epilepsy, conditions that cause spasms, such as Tourette’s syndrome and MS.
How do Norwegians generally view marijuana?
A 2021 study took a nationwide sample of 49,688 university and college students and found that 15.3% reported past-year cannabis use, and 23% support the legalization of cannabis. In addition, 29.2% reported that they perceive cannabis as being “low risk.”
While cannabis (which is most-often consumed as hashish in Norway) is the most-widely used illegal drug in Norway, a 2019 report asserted that Norway and Sweden have the lowest rate of cannabis consumption in Europe. That said, a 2021 study found that “proportions of past year cannabis use have increased among Norwegian adolescents in recent years.”
When it comes to medical professionals, they may have a more positive outlook on cannabis than is suggested by the country’s restrictive medical cannabis regulations.
A survey of 102 physicians in 2019 found that 44.1% believe that medical cannabis is a legitimate treatment option and that 86% see it as a therapeutic agent for treating cancer and chemotherapy-induced side effects.
“This study found acceptance of cannabis as a therapeutic agent as well as acceptance towards MC being introduced by prescription in Norway,” the researchers wrote.
According to the Norway branch of NORML, “Strong voices among academics such as Willy Pedersen, a professor of sociology at the University of Oslo and Paul Larsson at the Police College officially support legalisation. So did recently deceased and internationally renowned professor of criminology, Nils Christie.”
Is CBD legal in Norway?
Cannabidiol products are regulated by the Medicines Agency, and can only be acquired with a doctor’s prescription, unless they have zero THC. It is illegal to privately import CBD products to Norway, even with a prescription.
As Norway is not a member of the European Union, it does not have the same legal stance on hemp as the rest of the EU, which considers industrial hemp legal as long as it has less than 0.2% THC.
Can you grow your own weed?
Cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Norway for any purpose – recreational or medicinal – and any arrested for cultivation could potentially face serious penalties, including a lengthy prison sentence.
Visiting Norway – can you buy or bring marijuana products?
It is illegal to bring marijuana into Norway, even if it is for medicinal purposes and you have a prescription in your country of residence. There are no legal cannabis retail outlets in Norway, and the only way to purchase marijuana is on the underground market, and at your own risk.
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