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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 3 - Public Policy Options

Chapter 20 - Public Policy In Other Countries - Sweden

Statistics

 
Use[1][126]

Pursuant to surveys among youths in the 9th grade (15-year-olds) and among 18-year-old military conscripts, an obvious trend seen in the 1990s was the increase in lifetime prevalence use of drugs among teenagers, particularly older teenagers. There was also been an increase in recent use (last year, last 30 days) among teenagers and younger adults. For example, the percentage of 15 year olds who had tried drugs rose from 4% to 9% from 1992 to 2000. It is interesting to note that the number was 14% in the beginning of the 1970s and had decreased to around 8% in 1982. With respect to military conscripts, the trend was similar. According to these surveys, consumption of illegal drugs was low compared to other European countries, although the trend pointed to an increase in use. It should be noted that these numbers have been criticized. First, they are applicable to only 15-16 year old students and 18-year-old conscripts. Thus, these prevalence rates did not consider older groups where some first-time experimentation with drugs will occur. In addition, it has been argued that drug use is under-reported when drugs are viewed in such a negative light and the questionnaires are filled out at school (where some will feel they are being observed by their teachers).[2][127]

In 2000, the running three-year average of lifetime prevalence for the 15-64 age group was 12% (with the highest at 17% for the 24-44 age group). Since 1988, last year prevalence has never been over 1%. Overall, males are twice as likely to have used drugs than females although the difference is not as high in lower age groups.

Most who have experimented with drugs have tried cannabis, and the majority of these have tried only cannabis (in Sweden, cannabis is usually taken in the form of hashish). The second most popular drug in Sweden are amphetamines. Cocaine would be the third most popular drug for older people, while for youths it would be ecstasy and LSD. During the 1990s, the availability of drugs increased, in particular amphetamine and heroin. It would appear, however, that heroin use is on the increase in Sweden.

In general, the surveys indicate that overall drug use is fairly low in Sweden. With respect to severe drug abusers (defined as intravenous or daily drug use), it would appear that Sweden has a fairly serious problem with a range of between 14,000 and 20,000 people in this class. This is close to the European Union average.[3][128]

 

Offences

The number of suspected people reported increased from 6,567 in 1985 to 12,470 in 1999. The police registered 32,423 violations of the Narcotic Drugs Criminal Act in 2000, a figure which is similar to the numbers in the previous decade. The number of violations to the Goods Smuggling Act has decreased by 85% since 1980, to 350.

In 1998, 92% of these offenders were suspected for use or possession (from 76% in 1975). In addition, the number of those suspected of selling or manufacturing is now 19% (from 40% in 1975).

The number of sentences for violations of the Narcotic Drugs Criminal Act or the Goods Smuggling Act was 12,470 in 1999 (up from 2,601 in 1975). Cannabis was involved in 51% of sentences in 1998. In 1998, the sentences were divided in the following fashion: 38% were fines; 27% were prison terms; 14% were prosecution waivers; 14% were probation; and, 8%, other sanctions. Imprisonment was generally from two to six months.[4][129]

 

 



[1][126]  OEDT, National Report Sweden 2001, op. cit.

[2][127]  Boekhout van Solinge, op. cit., page 138.

[3][128]  United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, op. cit., page 9.

[4][129]  National Report 2001, page 27.

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