Europe: Copenhagen City Council Wants Cannabis Stores, But Proposal Faces Bumpy Ride in Parliament

The city council in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen voted overwhelmingly January 14 to ask the Justice Ministry for permission to implement a three-year trial program in which state-licensed marijuana outlets would sell small amounts of marijuana to city residents. But whether the proposal will go anywhere in Denmark's parliament dominated by Conservatives remains to be seen.
entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen (courtesy Wikimedia)
The proposal was presented to the council by the Socialists. It won on a vote of 41-12.

For decades, pot (or, more likely, hash) smokers in Copenhagen were able to buy their supplies openly in the city's "hippie enclave" of Christiania. But crackdowns by conservative administrations have brought an end to the halcyon days of Pusher Street, and black market cannabis sales and attendant gang problems have now spread in the city.

"It is a huge majority in Copenhagen who votes for this. We feel that the marijuana policy we have had in place for 30 to 40 years is not working," Socialist council member Lars Rasmussen Aslan told the Danish web site Politiken.

"We have to accept that the present strategy is not working," said Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen in remarks reported by the Copenhagen Post. "It's time to think about alternative models. And when the goal is to decriminalize the hash market, it's worth trying our idea."

Jensen, a former justice minister, said his goal was to reduce tensions between rival drug-selling gangs and reduce youth exposure to gangs. Although such a move would not eliminate gang problems, Jensen said, it would help. "Fewer young people would come in contact with the gang environment, and maybe it would keep people from moving over into harder drugs."

But one Conservative politician said the council's actions would lead to nothing. "The whole thing's a waste of time, because a city council doesn't have any influence on drug laws in Denmark," said Rasmus Jarlov, a Conservative member of both the city council and the national parliament. "This issue will be decided in parliament, where there's a broad majority against it. So I don't think we ought to be using our time on issues where we have no say," he said.

The proposal now goes to Justice Minister Brian Mikkelson. No word yet on when any action on it might occur.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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