8. October 2022

Civil Disobedience – AROD invites the Police to support the rule of law by giving away cannabis at the Main Police Station

The Norwegian drug reform has failed. Despite the Royal Commission’s identification of public panic as the engine behind policy and NGOs having documented the connection between this phenomenon and human rights crimes, politicians continue to push for punishment on rejected terms.

By doing so, the politicians have failed clear demands under international law, and the Alliance for Rights-Oriented Drug Policy (AROD) will assist the rule of law with a civil disobedience campaign for those persecuted by the drug policy.

The state’s responsibility

Seen from the perspective of the constitution, one cannot go from its criminalisation to making drug use a disease without looking at its relationship human rights principles.

Principles such as equality, self-determination, proportionality, and the presumption of freedom provide a basis for rights-analysis, and it is apparent that the prohibitionists do not have a strong case.

Punishment must be justified. Even so, those responsible for policy will not answer the questions posed by the rights-oriented perspective, and therefore, on 11 September 2021, AROD will bring cannabis to the Main police station in Oslo.

Blind spot

We are doing this to solve a situation that is becoming increasingly difficult.

After over 50 years of persecution, society finally realise that the stigmatisation of users makes everything worse; politicians, however, are at a loss about the way forward. They are delusional because they depend on the demonisation of drug dealers to maintain faith in the prohibition project, and because they don’t want to acknowledge a blind spot.

It is this blind spot that AROD wants to deal with. Regardless of whether the politicians agree on the decriminalisation of a certain quantity of drugs, the law of supply and demand remains distorted into a victim and abuser context, and there is political agreement to retain the law’s strictest punishment for actions that are legally regulated in an increasing number of countries.

After over half a century of prohibition, no politician will recognise the misdirection of punishment, but the truth is that prohibition is the cause of many problems.

The challenging relationship with human rights is becoming increasingly obvious, but so far no one wants to take responsibility for the persecuted. As an organisation dedicated to this purpose, AROD will, therefore, use our cannabis outlet outside the police station as a crowbar to emphasize and clarify a catalogue of rights.

An invitation to collaboration

By giving away cannabis, we not only mark the drug reform’s blind spot, but we also invite the police and the legal system to cooperate.

The police themselves are under pressure in the drug reform. The agency is increasingly facing criticism for a toxic culture, while several of our bravest police officers have stood up against arbitrary persecution. It goes without saying that a principled clarification is due.

Apart from the persecuted, few have suffered more than the police during the war on drugs. Officers of the law are trapped in a system that imposes a daily life of systemic abuse. It is a system that more and more people reject as dysfunctional, and AROD will thus use our cannabis-outlet to review the law.

Norway’s most renowned jurist, Johs. Andenæs, called the right to review a core point in the rule of law. According to the principle of separation of powers, the population can use the legal system to promote human rights, and AROD invites the police and prosecution authorities to assist.

No one is served by laws that do more harm than good. Nor is it acceptable to sabotage human rights obligations in the area of drug policy, but that is what the politicians have done.

After the Royal Commission’s detection of public panic, and the resistance to taking this on, we have a political process outside the control of the rule of law. AROD is therefore taking action to ensure human rights guarantees. In times of public panic, the judiciary has an important task when the politicians fail, and we expect the police and prosecutors to stand behind the rule of law.

Watchdogs watch out

AROD is looking forward to 11 September 2021 with the hope that we can process the case in the court system as soon as possible. We have previously handed over all relevant information to the police, and we will include the book Human Rising as evidence of human rights violations.

With that, everything will be arranged for a decent legal process, but the press and civil society must be vigilant.

For over 10 years, the persecuted have fought for justice. Not only have they been denied an effective legal remedy but the police have refused several offers of cooperation, and it is possible that the agency would prefer to ignore the problem of arbitrary persecution.

AROD therefore asks that the world pays attention, that journalists do not obfuscate crucial issues, and that Norway finds the moral courage deal with the incompatibility between drug policy and human rights.

We are, after all, dealing with the most important legal issue since the Second World War. Some 300,000 Norwegian drug users have rights that remain overlooked, and the more the light is shed on this blind spot, the faster the nation’s health can improve.

Thus, AROD hopes to inspire a commitment to human rights and the rule of law. After the report of the Royal Commission, we all have a duty to ensure minority protection, so let’s see how long panic is allowed to define politics now that the foot has finally been put down.


Originally published in Nettavisen 7 September 2021


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