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Thursday's papers: Drug policy, name boards and Olympic hockey

Thursday's newspapers include stories on Finnish drug policy, data protection and apartment buildings, and the ice hockey tournaments at the Olympics.

Mies polttaa kannabista.
Some Finnish experts are recommending drug decriminalisation. Image: Robin Van Lonkhuijsen / EPA

Helsingin Sanomat takes a look at Finnish drug policy in the wake of recommendations from experts at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) that the country consider decriminalisation of many common narcotics.

The paper reports that police recorded more than a hundred thousand drug possession and usage crimes this decade, and that many of those people are far from experienced or even regular users.

The THL experts, Pekka Hakkarainen and Tuukka Tammi, recommend that many drug offences be dealt with through treatment and social work, in order to avoid the risk of marginalisation that comes with a criminal record.

Heini Kaunulainen of Turku University tells HS that she agrees: criminal law normally only punishes people if they do harm to others, not themselves. Criminalising drug use can force people to hide their habits and raise the threshold for seeking help.

Police tell the paper that possession of narcotics is not a priority for them, and a youth worker tells HS that drug usage is now evident across social classes: it's no longer confined to those most marginalised from society.

Even so, an official from the health and social affairs ministry says that there are currently no plans to look again at drug policy.

No more name boards?

Savon Sanomat carries a story about the possible impact of new EU rules on data protection on the peculiar Finnish habit of placing a board featuring residents' names in the stairwells of apartment buildings.

SS quotes a lawyer from the Real Estate Association as saying that the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into force this May, could make the boards illegal.

If there is a rare name on the board, that could make it a register of personal data under the rules, and therefore subject to the GDPR, according to Kristel Pyynnönen.

Other countries, she notes, don't have these boards--and Finland might have to follow suit to comply with the regulation.

Lions roar

Iltalehti is among the outlets covering the start of the centrepiece of the Olympics for many Finns: the men's ice hockey tournament. Finland hammered Germany 5-2 in the early hours of Thursday morning (Finnish time), and the paper says that coach Lauri Marjamäki was relieved.

"There were many positive things, but of course some that require improvement," said Marjamäki. "Tomorrow is another opportunity to do things better."

The Lions' next match is against Norway on Thursday. Finland's women have had a less happy time in Pyeongchang, losing 3-1 to the United States and 4-1 to Canada.

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