Marijuana Laws in Norway: Is Weed Legal?
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To a large extent, Norway falls under the category of countries that have outlawed the possession and use of cannabis. Under 2018 marijuana laws in Norway, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport and cultivate marijuana, but in December 2017, the Norwegian Parliament decriminalized personal drug use, including cannabis.
As a result, even in cases where an individual in Norway demonstrates no intention to use or sell cannabis, they are still liable to punishment by law, and any acts relating to marijuana possession, transportation, and cultivation are considered to be in contravention of the established marijuana laws in Norway.
Breaking the drug laws could attract heavy punishment for international visitors, and in Norway, any quantity of cannabis found in an offender’s possession will make them liable. However, the quantity itself will determine the different kinds of punishment, which can range from a small fine to several years in jail or deportation from the country (for international visitors).
Punishments for Marijuana
Although marijuana has been decriminalized, that doesn’t mean that the government of Norway can’t press charges against egregious offenders.
Punishment for marijuana starts with monetary fines for smaller quantities of less than 15 grams, as they are generally taken to be for personal use, and transgressions over the 15-gram limit are considered dealing in cannabis, which could yield much heavier penalties.
First-time offenders for personal use will pay fines of between 1,500 and 15,000 Norwegian kroner ($251 to $2,510) for illegal possession, and travelers could be banned from the country for violating domestic policy—though this is highly unlikely since decriminalization rules took effect.
Repeat offenders for personal use will likely be offered or required to attend rehabilitation programs or medical services for treatment of addiction, though they will no longer be sentenced to jail time, which used to range from six months to two years in local prisons.
Dealers, on the other hand, can still serve jail terms if convicted for selling or possessing large quantities. They could serve sentences of up to 15 years for major drug trafficking and distribution cases involving marijuana—even though it’s decriminalized.
Traveling with Marijuana in Norway
Travelers are not allowed to bring marijuana into Norway. If you’re caught trying to bring marijuana into the country, you will be detained and later arraigned in court for prosecution in the country. There’s even a case of a celebrity, Snoop Dogg, who was banned from Norway for two years after attempting to enter the country in possession of this substance in 2012.
Despite the marijuana laws in Norway, there are still a number of people who use the drug for recreational purposes in the country. Nightclubs remain major distribution points for the drug, especially in the Norwegian capital Oslo, where police have issued public statements about how they will no longer process weed charges or arrest Norwegian citizens for possession.
However, in order to stay out of trouble with Norwegian authorities as a tourist, it is advisable to act within the provisions of current laws in Norway, especially since you are a guest of this country.
Medical Marijuana in Norway
It is only under special circumstances that a window in the law allows for travel with and use of marijuana in Norway: medical necessity.
For a traveler to be allowed to bring cannabis into Norway, they must get a doctor’s prescription for marijuana, which will serve as proof of the medical condition that warrants their use of the drug. Please note that the prescription must be on official hospital stationary like any other medical prescription—no hand-written notes!
Norway allows this type of medical marijuana use because there are currently no stores in the country that sell the drug for medical purposes and its international policy prevents it from interfering with the medical laws of other countries or the health of other countries’ citizens.
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Under current marijuana laws in Norway, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport, and cultivate marijuana, but there is an exception.
Cannabis in Norway – Laws, Use, and History
Norway has traditionally adopted a tough stance on cannabis. Prison sentences are in place for its use, sale and cultivation. In 2016, the country introduced a medicinal cannabis programme and in 2017, it announced that cannabis use would be decriminalised in the future. This may lead to the reintroduction of the hemp industry, and possibly more.
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Cannabis laws in Norway
Can you possess and use cannabis in Norway?
At the time of writing, it’s still illegal to use or possess cannabis in Norway though this law looks set to change soon.
Currently, if caught with small amounts of cannabis (15 grams or less), individuals can be given a fine, or imprisonment for up to six months. However, in December 2017, the majority of Norway’s parliament voted to decriminalise the use of drugs (including cannabis). This motion was backed by the Conservatives, Liberals, the Labour Party and the Socialist Left.
This was a surprising decision, given Norway’s previous stance. Although not quite as strict as Sweden’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach, Norway has traditionally had some of the harshest drug laws in Europe.
Prime Minister Bent Hoie admitted that the drug possession fines were “detrimental and meaningless”, and had been more harmful than beneficial to the people of the country. He also stated that treatment should be the focus, not punishment.
Back in 2013, the Green Party pushed for state-controlled cannabis production and sale just a few days after Uruguay adopted their cannabis legalisation bill. Although they weren’t successful at the time, it seems that they may have set the wheels in motion for decriminalisation to happen.
Can you sell cannabis in Norway?
The sale or supply of cannabis is illegal in Norway, under the Penal Code.
Norway’s Penal Code states that offenders will be sentenced to a prison term “not exceeding two years” if caught producing, importing, exporting, acquiring, storing, sending or supplying narcotic drugs.
However, if the crime is regarded as an “aggravated narcotic drug offence” then the prison term is extended to up to 10 years. “Aggravated” offences are determined by:
- The quantities of drugs involved
- The type of substance involved
- The nature of the offence
If the offender is caught with “very substantial” quantities, then the prison sentence is between three and 15 years. For “especially aggravated circumstances” the sentence is increased to up to 21 years.
Despite the fact that the prison sentences are severe for dealers, cannabis resin (hashish) and herbal cannabis remain the most commonly seized illegal drugs in the country.
Large-scale traffickers also operate in Norway. In 2018, the authorities seized 700 kilograms of cannabis, and arrested nine people. Police Chief Ketil Haukaas commented: “The narcotics are coming from abroad, and there are professional, organised criminals following the narcotics into Norway.”
Can you grow cannabis in Norway?
Cannabis cultivation is illegal in Norway. “Producing” cannabis (i.e. growing it) is an imprisonable offence, with individuals receiving a prison sentence of up to two years. After cannabis has been decriminalised for personal use, this may affect the cultivation laws – but at the time of writing, the Norwegian government has confirmed nothing.
Despite the harsh prison sentences for even small-scale cultivation, there are people in the country that take the risk and grow cannabis anyway. The imported hashish that dominates Norway’s illegal cannabis market is often of poor quality, which leads local growers to cultivate cannabis domestically in a bid to produce a superior product.
A recent study revealed that many cannabis growers are deterred from large-scale cultivation, due to the organisational challenges involved and the lack of specialised botanical skills. Sveinung Sandberg, who co-authored the study, commented: “Growing marijuana is a complicated process and it’s easy to water the plants the wrong way, or make other mistakes that could ruin a whole crop.”
Is CBD legal in Norway?
CBD is legal in Norway. The country is not part of the EU, and as such, it has its own set of regulations for CBD products. CBD may be used, purchased and sold, but may not contain any THC (the substance responsible for providing the ‘high’). This differs from EU laws which state that CBD products may contain up to 0.2% THC.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to Norway?
All parts of the cannabis plant are illegal to purchase or sell in Norway. This means that it’s illegal to mail seeds into the country. This may change with the forthcoming decriminalisation of cannabis but at present, the government has not issued any information regarding the legal status of the plant’s seeds.
Medicinal cannabis in Norway
Medicinal cannabis was legalised in Norway in 2016 and Sativex and Bedrocan are both available to patients with a prescription. The country doesn’t have an official list of health conditions that can be treated with cannabis, so doctors have to act at their own discretion. It’s usually used to treat MS and cancer patients.
In order to issue a prescription for medicinal cannabis treatment, the doctor must be able to prove that all other forms of treatment have been unsuccessful. In short, cannabis can only be used as a last resort. The doctor must also be a specialist in a hospital and get approval for prescribing cannabis products with a THC of higher than 1%.
Reform groups like NORML have highlighted the issues with Norway’s medicinal cannabis programme, stating that the treatment is too hard to access, and that many doctors don’t know much about it. In some cases, medical practitioners have even been hostile to patients who enquire about medicinal cannabis.
The government is taking steps to address this, however. For example, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and the Norwegian Medicines Agency have introduced a programme to provide education on cannabis treatment for hospital doctors.
Industrial hemp in Norway
Industrial hemp production is illegal in the country, which means Norway has no hemp market. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, Norwegian farmers have been growing hemp for centuries until it was eventually banned in 1964.
This may change in the future; particularly as recreational cannabis use is soon going to be decriminalised. However, as yet, Norway’s government haven’t explicitly stated that they’ll change the hemp law.
Good to know
If you are travelling to Norway (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:
- According to 2018 figures, 8.6% of Norway’s young people (aged 16-34 years) have used cannabis in the previous year.
- Cannabis is the most widely used drug in the country.
- Despite the fact that the laws are strict, many people still run the risk of using cannabis; even in public places. A recent study surveying drug use among festival-goers in Norway found that 12% had used an illegal drug in the last 30 days. 11% tested positive for drugs – 6% were for cannabis.
Cannabis Use in Lebanon – Laws, Use, and History
Archaeological evidence suggests that cannabis has been used and grown in Norway for centuries. Discoveries made in the south of the country show that the Vikings cultivated the plant, at some point between 650 and 800 CE.
While not much is known about what they used cannabis for, experts speculate that the seeds may have been used for medicinal purposes, as a pouch of seeds was found on the skeleton of an elderly woman, which displayed signs of her having suffered from various health conditions. It’s also likely that the seafaring Vikings used hemp for rope and sail-making.
Another archaeological dig at Oseberg uncovered two female Viking skeletons, which were buried with cannabis seeds and a small scrap of hemp material. Anne Stine Ingstad, a respected archaeologist, suggested that one of the women was a priestess of the Norse goddess Freya, and that the seeds may have been used as an intoxicant in religious rituals.
The evolution of trade routes in the ninth century meant that it was likely that cannabis was further introduced to Norway, via places like Russia and Central Europe.
By the medieval times, hemp use was commonplace in Norway, as it was in so many other locations in Europe. It had many practical purposes; and was used for netting, fishing lines, fabric and rope. During this time, it’s thought that most farmers in the country reserved at least one field for hemp cultivation.
Hemp continued to be an important crop in Norway until the early 1900s. The introduction of other fibres caused the industry to dwindle, and by the 1950s, there were no records of any hemp cultivation there at all. The government banned the growth of hemp in 1964, in accordance with the new drug laws.
Attitudes towards cannabis
Norway is well known for its hard-line approach to cannabis; and as such, it’s something of a taboo in the country. However, this doesn’t mean that people don’t use it. In fact, several people regularly consume cannabis (especially younger people), and there is growing support for its legalisation.
The government’s decision to decriminalise personal use of cannabis marks another shift in public perception. Previously, this would have been unimaginable.
Cannabis in Albania – Laws, Use, and History
Will it be legalised in the future?
While Norway’s cannabis laws remain tough, the move to decriminalise cannabis suggests a softening in the government’s approach. Prime Minister Bent Hoie publicly stated that the law needed to focus more on treatment, and less on punishment.
It’s also important to remember that, while medicinal cannabis is hard to access in Norway, it is legal. This also points towards a shift in the government’s stance, and may indicate a more progressive approach towards cannabis legislation in the future.
Norway has traditionally adopted a hard-line approach to cannabis. However, its government plans to decriminalise cannabis use in the near future. Read on.