The legalisation of marijuana in Copenhagen came a step closer after the City Council voted on Thursday to investigate ways to decriminalise the drug.
A committee has now been established to determine the best way to legalise the sale of hashish, with special stores owned by the council presenting itself as the preferred candidate.
The sale, consumption and cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Denmark, all of which can be punished with warnings, fines or jail time.
Despite this there is a strong black market for the drug generating 1.5 billion kroner a year and controlled entirely by criminal gangs.
According to councillor Lars Aslan Andersen ( Socialdemokraterne ) taking control of this trade would benefit everyone.
“It’s better that the council distributes hashish and not criminals,” he said. “I hope we get the opportunity to try a new policy because we can’t just continue the current prohibition strategy with hash which is very outdated.”
Similar proposals have been put forth by the City Council in recent years. All of them, including the most recent, in January 2010 which received the backing of the mayor, Frank Jensen ( Socialdemokraterne ), were blocked at the national level, but Rasmussen believes that this time around there is a majority in parliament to support a rewrite of the existing drug policy, which would be required for Copenhagen to move ahead with its plans.
The proposal, however, faces an uncertain fate after MPs representing a variety of political parties expressed unease with the idea.
“We strongly urge Frank Jensen as the country’s former justice minister to stop this crazy proposal,” Martin Geertsen ( Venstre ), a former deputy mayor of Copenhagen, told the media.
MP Ole Hækkerup ( Socialdemokraterne ) argued the proposal would have grave social consequences.
“We don’t want to make it easier to get hold of hash because then more people would use it and be worse off for it,” Hækkerup told Jyllands Posten newspaper. “If you look at people who use hash, two thirds of them started with hash.”
Jeppe Mikkelsen ( Radikale ) added that his party was uncertain of where it stood on the issue.
“It’s well known that we have been for and against [decriminalisation] within the party,” Mikkelsen said. “Personally I’m not religiously inclined to keep the current model, but we haven’t discussed it yet so we have to look at the proposals and see where we stand.”
A special committee will now investigate the best way to proceed with the decriminalistion of marijuana, but with parliament requiring its approval, and it not appearing in the common government policy, it make take some time before the issue is addressed by the government.
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