A serendipitous postscript to "The Swedish Experience" (1972), Chapter 39 of The Consumers Union Report on Licit & Illicit Drugs.

A 1995 Update on the Swedish Experience

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Date: Sun, 1 Oct 1995 10:30:31 +0200
X-Sender: bobo@personal.eunet.fi (Unverified) 
To: pdxnorml@pdxnorml.org
From: john.yates@bobo.pp.fi (John Yates)
Subject: Re: Swedish narcofascism
I was surprised to hear that you didn't know about Sweden. I've included an article I wrote about Sweden and posted in various newsgroups ( not always in the same form ). If there's anyone who can make any use of it, please pass it along. Feel free to use it in any way you want.


Swedish Narconazis Threaten European Liberalisation

Sweden is often thought of as a permissive and tolerant country and the average Swede as sophisticated and broad minded. This was true once, but Sweden has gone through a radical and unpleasant transformation over the last 20 years and is now the most intolerant and repressive country in Europe. The once famous open minded sophistication has given way to ignorant narrow minded prejudice and the average Swede is as likely to be permissive as any right wing arch conservative from the American deep south.

I lived in Sweden in the late 60's and there was a pretty good scene there then. Stockholm was like one big love-in, beautiful people and good vibes everywhere. Swedes were fun loving and non judgmental, the mood of the times being 'if you like it, do it as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else'. The main park in Stockholm, Kungstradgarden, was full of Hippies and pot was available everywhere. Although cannabis was illegal, the official attitude was one of tolerant acceptance. The atmosphere was cool and the police were friendly. It was very similar to Holland and it was sometimes hard to tell if you were in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam or in the Kungstradgarden in Stockholm.

Unfortunately things changed for the worst during the seventies.

An extreme prohibitionist movement, the RNS 'Riksforbundet Narkotikafritt Samhalle' (National Union for a Narcotics Free Society) had a few members well connected in the government and police who managed to engineer a narcotics scare. There was crackdown on the open scene masterminded by RNS sympathisers within the police, who saw the chance of increasing their own power and importance, together with a scare campaign in the media led by the few RNS sympathisers in the government. They were very successful. Within a very short time Sweden had changed completely. The hysteria whipped up in the media had created an atmosphere where no politician who wanted his career to continue dared oppose the RNS fanatics and the police hard-liners were duly rewarded with more power and influence as the politicians competed with each other to show who was the most 'hard on drugs'.

The anti drug laws have got progressively more severe over the years and are now the hardest in Europe. Sweden is the only country in Europe where drug use is criminalised and punishable by a prison sentence. Passing a joint counts as trafficking and carries a mandatory prison sentence and drug violations are regularly given harsher sentences than other crimes, including crimes of violence.

Today Sweden is entirely dominated by the RNS. The media regularly run the most incredible horror stories about narcotics, especially cannabis, which they have singled out as one of the most dangerous of drugs. The authorities have a monopoly on information and there is no dissent. The situation is similar to that in the USA during the Macarthyite anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950's. It would be professional suicide for anyone in an official position to question the RNS publicly. And of course, no one ever does.

Someone who once tried to is Lief Lenke, lecturer in Criminology at Stockholm University. What happened as a result is described in his own words in the Swedish newspaper 'Dagens Nyheter' 26.4.95: "At a conference organised by the 'Folkhalsoinstitutet' ( National Health Authority ) I dared to raise a few questions - if it is credible to to assert that cannabis is as dangerous as heroin, and if it is reasonable for Sweden to refuse to distribute clean syringes to drug addicts when even the WHO recommends it - there was immediatly a tremendous uproar. People whistled, shouted and interrupted, I was called a 'legaliser'. I had previosly been invited to speak on European narcotics policy at a meeting of Swedens Social Workers. They telephoned to say they had recieved certain information about me and had chosen another speaker. The Social Services Department informed me that I could no longer be Swedens representative on the Council of Europe comittee for narcotics questions".

The countries of the European Union have been moving towards decriminalisation and even legalisation for some time now. The recent liberalisation of German laws are only part of a general trend that has been taking place over the entire EU. Unfortunately Sweden joined the EU this year and has determined to carry its crusade against drugs into Europe. Any attempt at liberalisation will be fiercely opposed by Sweden. Their aim is to stop and reverse the trend towards legalisation and to this end are using the resources of the Swedish state and all their political power in the European Parliament.

Swedish Euro-MP's are forming anti-liberalisation pressure groups and actively lobbying for the adoption of repressive Swedish laws. Before a crucial vote in the European Parliament on drugs policy in september of this year, the Swedish government printed glossy 'information' packets pushing the Swedish hard line and distributed them to all members of the European parliament. Fortunately their propaganda didn't work and the European Parliament voted to decriminalise personal possession of small amounts of drugs by a close vote of 195-198. Despite this setback, the Swedes are redoubling their efforts to stop the European moves towards liberalisation.

Last year Sweden was instrumental in forming ECAD (European Cities Against Drugs), whose entire budget is paid for by the Swedish state. The general secretary of ECAD, a fanatical Swedish drug warrior, Ake Setreus, said in April this year that the communist Chinese policy of sending prostitutes and drug abusers to forced labour camps is an effective way to fight drugs. Sweden has long had a policy of committing drug abusers to forced treatment centers.

The Swedes are always well represented at international drug and harm reduction conferences where they do their best to oppose and discredit any talk of decriminalisation of cannabis or liberalisation of drug laws. They distinguished themselves at the harm reduction conference in Florence in the spring of this year by savagely attacking speakers and gave the impression that they were not there in order to engage in meaningful dialogue, but to beat down any liberal arguments. According to the Finnish periodical 'Nordisk Alkohol Tidskrift' (Northern Alcohol Review) no.3 1995 many delegates were clearly upset by the behavior of the Swedes and found it hard to take them seriously. Unfortunatly some politicians and legislators do take them seriously and this could have dire consequences for the entire EU.

Swedish government funds are being used to finance propaganda campaigns in European media including advertisements in European newspapers and on MTV Europe. Foreign politicians and officials visiting Sweden are regaled with glowing accounts of Sweden's success in it's hard line 'war on drugs' and persuaded to support the introduction of what they call the 'Swedish Model' to the rest of Europe.

The reality of the 'Swedish Model' is very different from the propaganda of the Swedish government. Their draconian laws are not having any effect on drug use. According to the National Health Institute in a report 11.5.95, 20% of Swedish young people in the major cities use drugs, mostly cannabis. The chairman of one of Swedens leading organisations for helping drug abusers, Alec Carlberg of RFHL ( National Organisation for Helping Substance Abusers ) issued a dire warning in the national daily newspaper Dagans Nyheter 26.4.95 : " Sweden is entering a situation where ther is great doubt we will be able to manage. Youth unemployment is record high and the amount of heroin in Stockholms suburbs is escalating. Society is powerless to stop it, we are sitting on a powder keg".

The much vaunted compulsory treatment for drug abusers has failed miserably. Social Physician Gunnar Agren has been researching into the results of the Swedish compulsory treatment programme scince 1987 and his results show that of those unfortunate enough to be forced into compulsory treatment, up to 10% die of drug abuse after they have been released. That compares to a death rate of 3% in non-treated street users.

One area where Swedish drug laws are having a great effect is crime. The newspaper 'Dagens Nyheter' reported 2.6.95 that drug use and violence are escalating out of control and Sweden is heading for a situation similar to that in the USA. A report by the Kriminalvardsstyrelsen (Criminal Care Ministstry) 1.7.95 says serious crime has risen 25% in Sweden since 1990 and the minister of justice, Laila Freivalds, says there is a clear connection between the rise in violent crime and the availability of illegal drugs and weapons.

According to the Criminological Institute of Stockholm University in a report 14.9.95, adult crime has risen by 80% in Sweden scince 1975. In 1975 the drug laws in Sweden were much more liberal than they are today. The rise in crime has been parallel with the toughening of drug laws.

The situation in the cities is becoming untenable. Crimes of violence, mostly robbery and aggravated robbery, in the Greater Stockholm area rose by 54% between the years 1987-1993 according to Johannes Knutsson, a researcher at the Police High School in report in the newspaper 'Svenska Dagbladet' 10.7.95.

None of this prevents the fanatical narconazis of Sweden holding their country up as example for the rest of Europe to follow.

As Europe is the best hope the world has of instituting sane drug laws, the actions of Sweden represent a threat that is out of all proportion to their relatively small size. There is a very real danger that they can succeed in imposing the same totalitarian narcofascism on the rest of Europe that they have imposed on their own unfortunate country.

The best way of fighting the Swedish narconazis is by information.

They should be confronted by the total failure of their prohibition policy and while this will make no impression at all on the Swedish demagogues, it may prevent them from fooling others that the 'Swedish Model' works.

John Yates



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