Cannabis in America
As Drug Violence Rises, Copenhagen Pushes Legal Cannabis Proposal
Officials in Copenhagen are set to propose a marijuana-legalization measure to Danish authorities on Thursday, in response to a rise in drug-related crime. Copenhagen officials have attempted to lift the cannabis ban in the city three times before, most recently in 2014. The Danish government has rejected all three previous proposals.
Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen is backing the proposal, which needs a majority of Copenhagen City Council members’ support to reach the national health and justice ministers for review. If the national government passes the proposal, cannabis would be legally sold in Copenhagen, and sales would be exclusively handled by city officials. Efforts to push the proposal came from a bi-partisan coalition between the Red-Green Alliance, a left-leaning party, and the libertarian-leaning Liberal Alliance.
Lawmakers from these two parties say creating a legal, regulated market for marijuana is an important step toward combating rising drug-related gang activity in Copenhagen. “The past months have seen an intensification in the fight between gangs to dominate the lucrative and illegal market,” Liberal Alliance council member Heidi Wang told the Danish broadcaster DR. “That causes insecurity for residents.”
One recent episode in the city spurred residents to destroy marijuana stalls in an area known as Christiania. A sort of hippie commune established in the early 1970s, Christiania is famous for its freewheeling, bohemian spirit–and its pot hawkers. In September, a marijuana dealer shot two police officers and a bystander, and in the days that followed, residents dismantled a number of the pot stalls in an area of Christiania called “Pusher Street.”
But in November, the Danish government took a small step toward liberalizing its marijuana laws, when it approved a four-year medical marijuana trial program, which will allow for a narrowly-defined group of patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. Danish citizens however, feel differently about marijuana than the government. Recent polls found 88 percent of Danes support legalizing medical cannabis, and just over half support legalizing cannabis in any form.