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Together with neighboring Sweden, Norway is the last European country to leave the drug-free ideal behind. It is no coincidence that these two countries have been found at the top of European drug-death statistics for decades, and while Norway and Sweden remain established in the prohibition paradigm, other countries have been regulating the drug market to better respect human rights. Half of Europe’s citizens will soon be living in a legalized market, but for Germany and other nations to regulate the cannabis industry, they must demonstrate that a right to cannabis use exists.


European law releases the member states from taking measures against trade of drugs – including cannabis – if it is based on a right, and the decision of the European Court will either arrest or assist the European trend towards increased regulation of drug markets.


Norway’s prohibition stance may, therefore, do some good. In the past decade, the international drug policy conventions have gone from being interpreted in light of the ideal of a drug-free world to emphasizing the idea behind the conventions, which is to protect the welfare of humanity, and the European Court has a responsibility to 700 million people under its jurisdiction to ensure human rights protection. Considering that the drug free ideal no longer governs policy, society must choose between a criminal market or a regulated drug market, and more and more countries understand that the latter is better for the health of society.


This is why Germany intends to regulate the cannabis industry. Not only do cannabis users have a right not to be disenfranchised by being held to a different standard than alcohol users, but the police have a right to provide a better service, the prosecution and the courts have a right to build on proper ethics, families have a right not to be torn apart by dysfunctional and toxic laws, and the nation has a right not to be split by an enemy image that thrives on ignorance.


Indeed, while meting out judgement to scapegoats undermines the integrity of the justice system, society has a right to be free from a morality which feeds on double standards to exist, and ARODs civil disobedience presents an opportunity for the European Court to rule on the validity of the prohibition experiment.


In other cases before the Court, the applicant has accepted that the drug law is necessary to protect society, but AROD claims that cannabis prohibition marks an unreasonable distinction between legal and illegal substances, that this is a case of arbitrary persecution, and that the prohibition must end for the rule of law to make sense.


It takes a human rights analysis to determine the evidence. Article 6 of the ECHR does not only put a responsibility on the state to show that the prohibition fulfils a legitimate purpose but protects the right of the defendant to present evidence and to summon witnesess in his defense.


AROD wanted the Minister of Justice and others responsible for the prohibition to testify on the merits of the prohibtion, and there are more than 100 questions that must be answered. These are the questions into which the Norwegian justice system has stopped all inquiry. Even so, no legal reason has been provided for the courts’ refusal to deal with the relationship between the drug law and human rights, and the European Court must provide a more solid judgement. AROD’s complaint to the Court was lodged on 3 March 2023, and news regarding the proceedings can be found here.

Argument to the European Court

A RIGHT TO DRUGS - The European Courts Responsibility for Human Rights in Drug Policy - Roar Mikalsen
A RIGHT TO DRUGS - The European Courts Responsibility for Human Rights in Drug Policy - Roar Mikalsen

After 60 years of panic in drug policy, society is waking up to the fact that punishment is incompatible with basic values and principles on which the rule of law is based, and a paradigm shift is happening.

This manuscript explains the connection between public panic, human rights abuses, and the arbitrary persecution of the past. The connection is found in the scapegoat mechanism, which has been known for 40 years in criminology and sociology of law, and in the last 30 years lawyers have recognised the same.

The book not only documents the conflict between politicians and experts but shows that the traditional arguments for prohibition are poor reasons for treating cannabis differently than alcohol. Instead, the questions raised by the rights-oriented debate reveal the parallels to race, homosexuality, and vagrancy laws and that drug prohibition is incompatible with the Western legal tradition.

With civil disobedience, therefore, a battle for rights takes place. A historic settlement in the European Court awaits, and through 100 questions, a confused legal landscape is clarified.

New application to the European Court of Human Rights


On 13 April 2023, the European Court ruled that it was manifestly ill-founded to question drug prohibition. Even so, the documentary Moving a Nation Forward reveals that the Court has failed its obligation to secure rights for 12 years. It also shows that drug users have been denied an effective remedy for more than 15 years, and based on this evidence the ECtHR was asked to provide minority protection on 23 October 23.

The complaint held that the ECtHR, due to a failure of two Maltese Justices, had neglected its responsibility. The evidence confirmed that the Norwegian justice system, with no proper justification, had set aside 200 years of legal history to protect the drug law from scrutiny and that the ECtHR had a duty to provide a judgement that respected the rights of 700 million people, but on 8 February 2024 the ECtHR ruled again that it was manifestly ill-founded to question prohibition.


This treatment will haunt the ECtHR. Firstly, the case alleged that Justice Orland, the judge that handled the case, in a previous judgement of 13 April 2023, had set aside the rule of law to cover up the misconduct of her predecessor, Vincent De Gaetano. It makes no sense to let Justice Orland continue with her cover up, and the refusal to inquire whether cannabis prohibition fulfils a legitimate purpose is not objectively justified as Germany and other nations regulate the market to protect public health. On the contrary, ascertainable facts raise doubts as to the impartiality of the Court, and the Court must recognise the public’s sensitivity to the fair administration of justice.

This can only be done by allowing Mikalsen v Norway to move forward without obstruction from Justice Orland. Instead, the Grand Chamber should rule on a legitimate purpose and the oversight and disciplinary procedures should ensure the removal of Justice Orland.

Justice Orland’s actions have undermined the impartiality, independence, and integrity of the ECtHR, leaving 700 million citizens without effective rights protection, and on 12 March 2024, AROD sent another complaint, asking the Court to implement procedures to safeguard the accountability and integrity of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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