Sweden is often regarded by many people as having some of the most progressive social policies in Europe. So it may come as a surprise to those who lack an encyclopaedic knowledge of European drug policy to learn that Sweden operates one of the most staunchly prohibitionist drug control policies in Europe.
It is probably less of surprise to learn that Sweden’s orthodox drug policy, and relatively low level of drug use, means that prohibitionists often use it as an example of a successful prohibitionist drugs policy.
In September 2006 the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a report praising Sweden’s drug control policies claiming that Sweden’s low drug use was a direct result of it’s drugs policy.
A comment piece by Peter Cohen, published on the Centre for Drug Research website, has questioned much of the UNODC report. His main criticism is that the report lacks scientific legitimacy because it fails to provide any evidence for a link between drug policy and drug use. He also criticises it for hand picking data, failing to make a distinction between drug use and drug abuse, and ignoring some of the negative consequences of Sweden’s drug policy.