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International Summaries: Narcotics Control in Finland

NCJ Number
O Kontula
Date Published
4 pages
This summary reviews drug legislation and law enforcement in Finland, the nature of Finnish narcotics offenses, Finnish narcotics offenses compared to other European countries, and the effect of Finnish narcotics control on narcotics use.
Prior to the 1960's, Finland opposed the international control of narcotics due to the insignificant use of narcotics in that country. With an increase in the use of hashish in the 1960's, the use of narcotics other than for medical purposes was criminalized in 1966 and further restricted by the 1972 Narcotics Act. The 1981 expansion of narcotics legislation increased the effectiveness of police investigations. Police can detain a suspect for questioning for up to 17 days, even if there is no concrete evidence of the suspect's guilt. Hashish is by far the most common narcotic involved in narcotics arrests. About 70 percent of narcotics cases brought to court result in a fine. Unconditional and conditional prison sentences account for 10 percent each. From the European perspective, Finnish narcotics problems are minor, and those arrested for narcotics offenses are not typically involved in other crimes. Tightened narcotics control, which has produced more arrests, has given the appearance that narcotics use has increased in Finland, but there is no evidence that actual narcotics use has risen. There is no evidence that the increasing scarcity of narcotics has forced users to shift from mild substances to harder substances.