Copenhagen Considers Legalizing Cannabis

By ThirdEyeFloond · Sep 20, 2009 · Updated Sep 20, 2009 · ·
  1. ThirdEyeFloond
    CANNABIS CULTURE - A debate over legal marijuana has been raging in Denmark this summer because of an unpleasant gang war.

    Denmark has had a liberal attitude towards cannabis since the 1970s. The open sale of hashish and marijuana had long been tolerated in the famous Pusher Street in Christiania, a haven for hippies and anarchists allowed to exist in the middle of Copenhagen. In its early years, Christiania had a conflict between users and sellers of hard and soft drugs, and the hard drugs were expelled from the village. Only soft drugs were tolerated, a policy that has worked well for many years.

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    Since the conservative government chose to close down the open sale in 2004, the cannabis market spread all over Copenhagen. Cannabis quickly became even more available than before, and illegal coffeeshops, so called "hash clubs" opened everywhere. Danish police have closed over 150 such clubs in Copenhagen. In Odense, Denmark's third-largest city, they are still openly advertising their services.

    With increasing clampdowns came increasing violence, and biker gangs were pitted against other gangs consisting mainly of immigrants. Gangs performed visitations of random passerbys to check for rival gang members, and several liquidations and shootouts took place. People were afraid to get caught in the crossfire, and the Danish police asked people to stop buying hashish.

    That's when several danish politicians came up with a better idea: legalize it. And don't do like the dutch and just legalize the retail outlets, but the whole chain, to take away the entire criminal market. The Social Magistrate of Copenhagens city council, Mikkel Warming, suggested letting coffee shops sell hashish legally. His proposal was not voted on, instead the city council voted to get concrete proposals on how it can be done, and continue debate after summer.

    Ann-Sofie Von Bech of the Social Administration of Copenhagen came up with the requested report and recommendations on the 25th of May. The report refers to the Beckley Foundation Cannabis Commission report in several places. It can be read here, through Google Translate:

    In short, the report concludes (like Arnold Schwarzenegger) that there are no examples of state controlled and regulated cannabis, but that it could nevertheless be an alternative to the current situation of illegality. It admits that prohibition has not had an effect on use of cannabis or the criminality surrounding it. Furthermore, the report recommends that the government, if they choose to legalize, put an eighteen year age limit on the drug, and that relevant information about harmful effects are distributed to users. Advertising would be illegal, and the situation should be monitored closely.

    Polls showed that 59% of Denmark supports legalization, and a majority of the youth wings of the political parties support it as well; however, the chances of it passing now are slim, as it would have to be approved by the Ministry of Justice.

    The Minister of Justice has already made it clear that Copenhagen would not get this dispensation, but a majority of Copenhagen's politicians are taking this discussion seriously, and Warming says the "idea is being kept alive".

    Expect debate to continue soon, especially if the drug wars do not calm down in Copenhagen.

    By Ed Freeman, Cannabis Culture - Wednesday, September 16 2009
    No link to the source because the site has a community forum

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  1. ThirdEyeFloond
    A good article that pretty much sums up the current situation here. The minister of Justice Brian Mikkelsen (oh gawd, i hate him sooo much) didn't bother to give the report even a peak look before announcing that Copenhagen wouldn't get the dispensation. It's quite annoying to have a minister that won't even take the matter seriously solely due to his personal bias against cannabis and it's users.

    *several pages of profanity censored*

    As a side note, even though Christiania's "Say NO to hard drugs!"-soft drugs policy indeed has been succesfull in keeping hard drugs off their turf since the so-called "Junk blockade" of 1979 there is a backside to the medal. The hard drug, mainly heroin, users at the time were basically given the choice "Get clean or get ya ass whooped!", so people who either couldn't or wouldn't go cold turkey were beat up and frown out the gates. While this may be an efficient (and inhumane) method for getting rid of junkies in a small community it's not a policy SWIM for one would like to see implemented on a national scale, he wouldn't know where to hide lol.
    'Cannabisrådet' / the cannabis council, an umbrella organisation featuring a broad range of individuals and representatives from different organisations, among them representatives from Christiania was founded a few years ago after the pro-legalization movement had been laying dormant/dead for a while. One of the founding principles was that the organization would actively work towards cannabis legalization but not at the expense of other substances and their users thereby restricting themselves from argumentation along the lines of "Oh, but alcohol is so much worse"
    So when Christiania recently celebrated the 30th year anniversary of the junk blockade and the Christiania representatives suggested the cannabis council should join in on the celebration it caused a mayor dispute in the council's board which more or less killed the organization. Atleast the mailing list was shut down after a rather ugly flame war against certain individuals who happened to actually mean what was stated in the council's founding principles *sigh* The Christiania fraction seem to be of the opinion that the unjust witch hunt they're exposed to is cool as long as it happens to someone else. *hrmpf*

    SWIM's hopes of seeing cannabis legalized soon took a severe beating during the final days of the mailing list, that's for sure...
  2. Nature Boy
    Very interesting developments. It would be nice if this built momentum. Copenhagen seems to be in a good position to make such a move. Denmark is a small country with logical fiscal sensibilities. They could cash in on the mistakes the Dutch government are making and boost up their city's tourism whilst taking a big bite out of crime. Keep your eyes open for more news on this. We need to hear as many positive stories about drug policy as possible. It seems the only advancements are being made on the other side of the Atlantic and that most European countries are getting more conservative (apart from Portugal).
  3. corvardus
    Some musings on the matter.

    It simply appears that the pendulum of politics are running conservative, egged on by the economic downturn which bodes well for conservative agendas across Europe, which sucks for Europe at the moment.

    The UK will not be left out SWIM would be flabbergasted if the Labour party won the next election. So the UK will most definitely become Conservative. Although with this current governments slapshod policy on drugs SWIM wonders if a conservative government might actually be better!

    SWIM hopes that Denmark can and do become another country that favours legalisation. In this instance Demark is likely to become a hotbed of weekend tourism from Germany, France and the UK. This would be an acid test for crime. SWIM hopes they do have the courage to try this.

    With these and the South American models hopefully following the example set by Portugal another long standing pillar of stone might collapse from the rationale of drug prohibition, one can only hope.

    Whilst SWIM understands that the current advances appear to be made in the US remember that their pendulum has swung back to more liberal attitudes, and with Bush it could only go one way. It is probably, now, why the South Americans have chosen, now, to pursue a liberal drug agenda.

    SWIM likens the political pendulum and "progress" to be a two steps forward, one step back type of a deal. SWIM doesn't feel Obama will have a second term but SWIM might be surprised. At the moment the US is on the two steps forward mode. Europe is on the one step back mode. 2012 might change the positions again.
  4. Nature Boy
    Although Obama's getting a bashing at the moment, I can't see the Republicans springing any surprises for 2012. The economy will have recovered slightly by then and the GOP is really in crisis. I can't think of anyone of theirs who the American people can rally behind (Ron Paul, dream on). Don't be fooled by Fox News. These whacky protestors are still the minority. A second term for Obama is absolutely vital in terms of drug policy. This is when he can actually make his move. I don't see him radically overhauling the entire war on drugs but medicinal marijuana and decriminalisation should be safeguarded in many states. I could even see him lifting the federal prosecution on marijuana. As for other drugs, I wouldn't be so optimistic. You can make a good financial argument in favour of marijuana and the tide is turning in terms of social acceptance but you can't make the same arguments for any other drug because they're simply not as popular i.e. the risk of legalising it wouldn't be worth the financial gain.
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