Major step toward decriminalization in Norwegian Supreme Court

On August 17, for the first time since 1999, the Norwegian Supreme Court reviewed the penalty level for import and dealings with LSD. The Court will decide whether or not today’s penalty level for dealings with LSD is in accordance with an updated scientific assessment of the risk and health profile.

Penalty out of proportion

The Supreme Court’s judgement will be based on science and the principles of proportion between risk and penalty. A decision is expected around the 25. August.

In Borgarting Appellate Court a 36 year old computer programmer was awarded 75 hours community service for importing 131 doses of LSD, despite that the judge acknowledged that the LSD was for personal use to facilitate meditation and introspection.

The case was appealed by the accused and his lawyer, John Christian Elden, a respected Norwegian jurist and Conservative Party politician, with assistance from EmmaSofia, a psychedelic human-rights advocacy organization, who argued that the penalty level for LSD has been too strict compared to the documented risk and health profile of this popular psychedelic that has been used by tens of millions of people over the past 50 years.

Currently Norway punishes use and possession of LSD at the same level as for amphetamine. This in spite of five expert consensuses assessing the risks of LSD to be lower than that of cannabis, and far lower than legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco. According to the EU drug agency (EMCDDA), LSD does not lead to dependence and serious accidents on LSD are «extremely rare».

- «This is an important case», says Ketil Lund, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway and legal advisor for EmmaSofia. «It says something about the Supreme Court’s ability and will to change the law and match it with reality.»

Lund expressed concern that the penalty level for psychedelics is not in accordance with human rights.

- «The penalty level has been developed with a tragic faith in the preventive effects of the penalty and an intense exaggeration of how dangerous and harmful the drugs are. The expert knowledge hasn’t been based on reliable science, but has rather been influenced by the propaganda, the myths and extreme isolated incidents», Ketil Lund says.

Lower risk with LSD than with legal drugs

Five separate expert assessments establish that LSD is far less risky than alcohol, for the user and for the society. David Nutt, a British psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist at the Imperial College of London, published an article in 2010, in the prestigious journal Lancet. It contained a list of drugs and the harm they had on individuals and on the society as a whole. Alcohol and tobacco were rated the most harmful drugs, while LSD was last on the list with a very low risk.

Pål-Ørjan Johansen is a researcher and clinical psychologist at the EmmaSofia Clinic. Through scientific publications and interviews with NRK, The New York Times, Nature News, BBC, and Scientific American, Johansen has contributed to increased openness, dialogue and factual information around the use of MDMA and psychedelics, both in and out of treatment.

- «The biggest risk of taking LSD is that it might not be LSD. If what is sold as LSD turns out to be something else, that is something we need to worry about and try to prevent», Johansen says.

- «It should be considered a positive development if some of Norway’s alcohol consumption would be replaced with a lower risk drug, with the potential of a health gain», he continues.

Trusts the decision will be based on updated knowledge

It has been a long and difficult process for the formerly unpunished 36 year old.

- «I trust the decision will reflect the updated knowledge we have on the low harm LSD has, and I hope the sentencing in the future will reflect recent science and not historical factors», the LSD defendant says.

Facts:

● The trial starts at 11 a.m. Thursday 17 August in the Supreme Court of Norway, Oslo. It is an open court.

● EmmaSofia has sent a petition to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health regarding public information on LSD. Read the letter.

Read our editorial in Dagbladet.

 

Contact

Pål-Ørjan Johansen

Director and clinical psychologist at EmmaSofia

johansen@emmasofia.org | +47 922 93 108

Pictures of Pål-Ørjan Johansen: Picture 1 Picture 2

Presentation of EmmaSofia