The Danes Call for Legalisation after the Raid on the Cannabis Market in Christiana

  • On three occasions during the month of June Danish police entered the celebrated neighbourhood of Christiania to close stands dedicated to the sale of cannabis. Far from being effective, the Danish government's restrictive policies have meant that more and more people are coming out in support of marijuana's legalisation.

The latest police action against cannabis consumption in the Danish capital resulted in the closure of 37 stands, 18 people arrested, and the seizure of up to 10 kilos of marijuana. However, far from slowing sales in Christiania, the sellers reopened their kiosks just a few minutes after the 100 agents abandoned the area.

These actions have made the debate on legalisation in Denmark hotter than ever. Citizens across the country, including several experts in the legal field, say the government should abandon its restrictive policies, which have been proven to be ill-advised.

With regards to this increase in popular support, a Danish newspaper recently published a survey indicating that 45% of the population believes that cannabis should be legalised, vs. 41% who think it should continue to be prohibited. But 88% of respondents surveyed said that they were in favour of the decriminalisation of medical marijuana. Among those who approve of this measure, 72% said the state should be responsible for handling sales.

"I personally think we should legalise the sale of cannabis because it is not a battle that we are going to win," said Anne Birgitte Sturup, Chief Prosecutor at Copenhagen's Prosecutor's Office. "We have tried to combat its sale for too many years, and the result has been failure. We cannot stop cannabis consumption by banning it; it´s expensive and ineffective."

Cannabis has been sold in Christiania since Danish radicals occupied the former military barricades in 1971, in an attempt to create an independent city within a city, free of state authority. Sales on Pusher Street, quashed by police on several occasions, are worth some one billion kronor a year (about 134 million euros).

This figure is also used by those who support the legalization of marijuana. They note that, as sales are illegal, those revenues will continue ending up in the pockets of criminal organisations. In contrast, if legalised, that money could end up in state coffers, as is the case in places where it has been allowed, like Portugal, Uruguay and multiple US states. In this regard the Inspector General of the Copenhagen Police, Per Larsen, stated that "the money is ending up in the wrong hands."

Although it seems the ideal setting for legalisation to occur, for now the Danes will have to wait. The Government has not only turned a deaf ear to these demands, but has warned that it plans to implement new measures to further restrict access to marijuana.


Comments from our readers

There are no comments yet. Would you like to be the first?

Leave a comment!

Contact us

Contact us