State-run hash and marijuana dispensaries won't be popping up in Copenhagen any time soon after the Justice Ministry this weekend turned down Copenhagen City Council's request to experiment with legalising cannabis in the city.
In a letter to the council, the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), wrote that the government could not permit the experiment as they believed that legalising hash and marijuana would likely increase both availability and use, which was unwise given the range of side effects that cannabis has been linked to.
“Because of this the government will not permit the experiment,” Bødskov wrote.
The rejection was met with disappointment from members of the city council, including the deputy mayor for social affairs, Mikkel Warming (Enhedslisten), who argued that legalisation was the only solution to the crime created as a result of the illicit drug trade.
“It’s very disappointing,” Warming told public broadcaster DR. “The prohibitive policies we have operated under in Denmark for so many years have not worked. You can still buy hash on street corners across the city which also means the hash is mixed up with other harder drugs. Criminals also pocket about two billion kroner a year from the trade.”
Warming added that he would continue to work toward the legalisation of hash and marijuana, pointing out that it took ten years to convince parliament of the need for an injection room for users of hard drugs.
City council member Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokraterne) also criticised the government’s decision, arguing that the criminalistion of hash and marijuana was the root cause of the high level of gun crime in the city.
“[Legalisation] would limit the gang conflict and it would also give us access to the group of users who have been left to the criminal environment,” Rasmussen told Ritzau. “We had hoped that they would take our proposal seriously, as we have the support of 80 percent of the city council. Copenhagen has a serious problem because the gang conflict is a result of the trade in marijuana. The gangs turn over more money than 7-Eleven.”