Sweden's drug policy needs to be humanized. The zero tolerance towards drugs has given us one of the highest drug-related death rates in the Western world.
Sweden’s drug policy needs to be humanized. The zero tolerance towards drugs has given us one of the highest drug-related death rates in the Western world. Today, drug users are punished instead of getting help. Basically, the policy is based on the assessment that it is better for a drug user to die than for the person to get help to live with or get out of their problematic use. We want to change the policy towards harm minimization and regulation of the drugs that are at least as harmful as alcohol and tobacco.
Overview – The Pirate Party wants to:
All forms of drug use are decriminalized
People with problematic use receive care instead of being punished
The market for cannabis is regulated with the aim of limiting availability and benefiting the economy
The police’s limited resources are re-prioritised from minor drug crimes to crimes with victims
Introduction – A humane drug policy
Today, illegal drugs flow freely on the illegal market, whose lucrative shares feed criminal actors to the point that deadly violence has become commonplace in Sweden. It paves the way for reckless opportunism with unnecessary injuries and deaths as a result among both users and other citizens. The pirate party wants to regulate the handling of drugs and turn the focus from punishment to care. The repressive drug policy has reached a dead end.
Sweden’s current drug policy is based on an anti-evidence, prejudiced view of various drugs and their users. Today, some drugs are legal and generally accepted despite the fact that they cause both individual and society more harm than a number of still illegal drugs. The Pirate Party wants to see a scientific, knowledge-based drug policy, that users are offered help and that the market for cannabis is regulated.
The focus of the Pirate Party’s drug policy is to help, minimize suffering and give as good a chance as possible to a well-functioning life, while at the same time protecting the individual’s self-determination over his body. We therefore want to change the policy from prohibition to damage minimization, from punishment to care. The welfare system must be able to offer help to people with problematic use instead of criminalizing them, which for many risks leading deeper into both harmful use and the criminal world.
1. Care instead of punishment
Hundreds of people die every year because of an outdated drug policy. Other parties focus on illegal drugs and punishing users – we instead want to reduce the harmful effects of all drugs, put the person in focus and care for those with problematic use.
More than half of those treated for the consumption of addictive substances have one or more psychiatric diagnoses. A better working collaboration between addiction care, social services and adult psychiatry is necessary to help this patient group. Mental comorbidity requires specialist skills.
Zero vision for the number of deaths
Today, drug policy is guided by a zero vision for illegal drug use. This is an idealistic vision without grounding in reality and with directly harmful consequences. We instead advocate a zero vision for the number of drug-related deaths. This means that we get a completely different approach to drug policy than the established parties. If we can prevent deaths by e.g. syringe exchange program, then we introduce it. Opponents of this argue that it would encourage drug use, which is what they are trying to combat, and would rather overlook the deaths.
Decriminalization of drug use
We want to decriminalize all drug use. This means that the person who uses a drug can never be punished for their use, unlike the person who produced or sold the drug. This is a way to protect drug users, who are often very socially vulnerable people, while at the same time establishing that the drug in question is too dangerous to be sold, even on a regulated market.
Stop the overdoses
Every year, hundreds of people die from overdoses in Sweden. The vast majority of these cases can be divided into two categories:
The first category concerns overdoses due to incorrect use – either the drug is combined in the wrong way with other drugs, or the user takes a different drug than they think.
The second category concerns overdoses that could have been treated if only the user or people close to them had dared to contact the healthcare system instead of refraining for fear of possible punishment and presence in criminal records.
Many of these overdoses could have been completely prevented or at least led to treatment, with a revised drug policy where users felt greater trust in the public sector.
Every person who dies from drugs is one too many. The drug-related mortality rate in Sweden has long been among the EU’s highest. An important step in reducing mortality is to ensure that drugs to reverse overdoses, such as Naloxone, are readily available.
A related issue is the medical use of various drugs. Sweden, like several other countries, has for example opened up further to medical cannabis, and there are more and more positive studies being done on how today illegal drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine can be used medically against, for example, alcoholism, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. There should not be unreasonably high government barriers to this research, but the population’s mental and physical health must be prioritized over the stigmatizing view that exists today of these drugs. Drugs used medicinally must follow the same rules as all substances used medicinally, without special treatment.
Therefore, we want to:
§1 The zero vision on the number of drug users is abolished and replaced by a zero vision on the number of deaths related to drug use;
§2 Medical use of several today stigmatized and illegal drugs must be investigated;
§3 Personal use of narcotics and doping agents is decriminalized;
§4 The conditions for being included in substitution programs are reviewed;
§5 Investments are made in user rooms and syringe exchange programs.
2. A regulated market
A regulated market means that the sale of certain drugs is permitted under certain conditions. The drugs that we believe should be regulated in this way are primarily those that, in a neutral and objective evaluation, are shown to have equivalent side effects to the currently legal drugs. An obvious candidate for such regulation is cannabis, which has already been shown to be successfully legalized in various parts of the world.
A regulated market for drug sales can look many ways. We do not advocate the same model for all drugs, but that each drug should be treated based on its conditions. Just as we today have the prescription pharmacy model, the system company model with state monopoly and the tobacco model with licensed sales, we assume that other drugs need models that fit them.
Criminals lose their earnings
The police have estimated that about half of the criminal networks’ income comes directly from the sale of cannabis. Cutting off this income is one of the keys to fighting gang crime. With less money, the ability to recruit and purchase weapons is impaired, which is one way to reduce the increasing number of fatal shootings in recent years.
With a regulated market, the income that otherwise ended up with criminal networks can be used by the white market and e.g. be used to strengthen the financing of today’s patient care.
When disputes arise between different criminal gangs – e.g. about who has the right to sell cannabis in a certain area – they have no way to go to court to get justice. Instead, the right of the strong prevails and the one who can most effectively use violence and threats for revenge actions or area control is the one who wins. This is the background to the increasing number of settlements between gangs and accompanying fatal shootings in Sweden. Through a regulated market, the incentive for many of these settlements disappears and civil society can avoid being affected by the criminals’ spiral of violence.
Because drugs today are sold on a completely black market, there is no consumer protection. This has several negative consequences for both society and users.
First, there is no guarantee that the drug being sold is what the seller says it is. Today, many people die of overdoses because they took a different drug than they thought. These are deaths we can prevent through a reformed drug policy.
Secondly, it means that the buyer is not allowed to take part in any user manual with e.g. information on dosage. Some drugs should be used alone, others in groups. Some are suitable for combination with alcohol, others absolutely not. In a regulated market, we can legislate on duties for the seller, so that users can be safer.
Most of the time it is relatively easy even for a layman to produce drugs, but in the worst case it can lead to harm to the user. Today, alcohol is a legal example with relatively low risks, while cannabis is illegal despite significantly lower risks. People’s right to privacy must include that the production of drugs in their own home is allowed, with the condition that the product is not distributed further. The Pirate Party therefore believes that private production of regulated drugs should be allowed within the framework of personal use, in an amount and strength that collective expertise has investigated and agreed upon.
Therefore, we want to:
§6 That an investigation of the side effects from common illegal drugs is carried out, and that these are compared with the side effects of today’s legal drugs;
§7 If such an investigation shows that cannabis should be regulated, we want to investigate the specific forms for regulating the cannabis market;
§8 That any subsequent sale of cannabis takes place in such a way that the active substance is kept at a controlled level to prevent harmful use;
§9 That any subsequent sale of cannabis takes place in such a way that the prices are low enough to compete with the black market;
§10 Allow private production of regulated drugs for own use.
3. Re-prioritised police activities
Today, the police are unable to fulfill their social mission. Far too many investigations are closed. Too many tips are not followed up. This means that we need to prioritize what the Police should devote themselves to. Today, a large part of the police’s resources are spent on investigating victimless drug crimes. We believe that the first priority must instead be crimes with victims, for example rape, robbery or assault.
In 2016, the police spent nearly 1.8 million hours on drug crimes according to their annual report. This corresponds to a little over 870 full-time positions or just under 5.5% of the number of employed police officers (2016). In the annual report for 2020, the police state that the average cost of investigating a drug crime is SEK 29,241. Multiplied by the total number of drug crimes investigated in 2020 (124,000), the total cost is SEK 3.6 billion; roughly 11% of the Police’s budget for 2022.
But not only the Police could be made more efficient through a revised drug policy, but also the judiciary in general. More cases of e.g. rape or robbery could be prosecuted in court. Above all, waiting times for trials could be shorter.
The government instead goes in the other direction and proposed in 2021 to introduce the crime category “Preparation for minor drug offences”. One of the things proposed to constitute preparatory offenses is using encrypted chat.
Therefore, we want to:
§11 That the Police explicitly prioritize crimes with victims over investigating cases of minor drug crimes.
4. Protected privacy
The Pirate Party protects people’s right to privacy and their own bodies. Every individual has the right to a protected privacy. Therefore, any privacy-infringing action must be well-justified – it must be necessary to achieve a specific, well-defined and reasonable goal. Interventions in people’s privacy must be targeted, traceable and legally secure. The methods used by the police in case of suspected drug use do not meet these requirements.
Today, the police perform an increasing number of urine samples on people suspected of being under the influence of drugs. At the same time, the percentage of samples that are positive decreases. This means that the Police therefore carry out more and more tests, while at the same time they are getting worse and worse at determining who should be tested. A urine test is very privacy-infringing to be forced to do, and it is far from the only police measure that affects more and more innocent people.
Unequal use of coercive measures
Young people who live in socio-economically weaker areas are more often suspected of drug crimes, even though surveys show that young people in more affluent areas tend to use drugs to a much higher degree. It has long been known that repressive drug legislation – the so-called ‘War on drugs’ – leads to repressive measures against less influential groups in society, such as minorities or the politically disaffected.
Therefore, we want to:
§12 The police’s ability to conduct a urine test is limited to persons suspected of crimes involving victims.
Democracy's existing tools need to be strengthened and supplemented. In order to ensure that the decisions that are made are representative of the people, it requires a policy that aims to strengthen community involvement.
We want equal care - regardless of whether you live in the city or in the countryside - and a diversity of different care providers. Healthcare must be evidence-based and systems improved to introduce new knowledge and new technology into healthcare.
Equality before the law is one of the foundations of democracy. At the same time, it is important that police officers and prosecutors are scrutinized so that abuse is avoided and those who do are punished.