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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 November 24; 335(7629): 1061.
PMCID: PMC2094181
Should Drugs Be Decriminalised?

Sweden's story in responses

Sharon Davies, letters editor

Echoing Califano's citation of Sweden's drug policy in his contribution to the head to head debate,1 H C Raabe writes:

“Around three decades ago, Sweden adopted the goal to create a ‘drug-free society.' The result is impressive with essentially the lowest rates of drug abuse in Europe, lower than, for example, the Netherlands and much lower than the UK.”

But, replies Andrew Byrne, “Sweden's goal of a drug-free society has been a cruel hoax on its people. Read the official EMC [European Monitoring Centre] figures from Lisbon: high rates of hepatitis C, enormous alcohol problems, amphetamines at higher rates than many other European countries. Its approach has been repressive, expensive, and largely ineffective. Along with the USA, Sweden is one of the last western countries without a needle services for drug users. This leads to HIV, bacterial infections, and other preventable and costly burdens on the Swedes.”

Stephen A Rolles concludes that there is no correlation between the harshness of prohibition's enforcement and the use or misuse of drugs. “Some countries with harsh enforcement policies (including, prominently the UK and US) have very high levels of use while other countries with very different policies, such as Greece, or more famously, the Netherlands, have low levels of use comparable to Sweden.”


Competing interests: None declared.


Califano JA, Jr. Should drugs be decriminalised? No. BMJ 2007;335:967 (10 November.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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