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Opinion | Is it okay if we sell joints?
The City Council will soon be sending a letter to the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne). It might be formulated a little more formally than the question above, but that question is, in essence, what we will be asking. A majority on the council support a Socialistisk Folkeparti initiative to request that the justice minister do what he can to help make it legal to launch a pilot project regulating the sale of cannabis in Copenhagen.
And why do we want to do this? The long-standing effort to legalise cannabis stems from a recognition that cannabis is here to stay, that the current situation is untenable and that 10 years of failed centre-right cannabis policies that include ineffective bans, tougher punishments and police raids have not helped the problem – neither in terms of abuse rates nor in terms of drug-related crime.
It’s unrealistic to expect that we can completely eliminate cannabis in Copenhagen and Denmark. Cannabis’s presence is something we need to accept. But what we should do is try to tackle the problems it carries with it, and try to come up with some sensible guidelines. A pilot project modelled on the Dutch system of regulated sales of cannabis could expose the problems we need to address and allow lawmakers to come up with sensible solutions.
Statistics show that cannabis use is no greater in countries that have decriminalised it. And another important effect of regulated cannabis sales is that it takes the trade out of the hands of gangs. It could help end the lawlessness, drug wars and the reign of violence associated with the cannabis market. We owe it to the people of Copenhagen to take away gangs’ livelihood and make sure that gang warfare does not flare up again in Copenhagen the way it has in Malmö.
We owe it to Christiania to allow it to again become a home for alternative thinking, solidarity and creativity – not a home for psychopaths that brutalise parking wardens and earn billions on cannabis sales.
“But cannabis is dangerous,” the critics will say. Yes, cannabis is a harmful drug and that’s exactly why we need to control its sale – unlike today, where we can find cannabis for sale just about anywhere in the city. Dealers are happy to sell to kids, and they aren’t shy about selling something a little harder.
Cannabis is here to stay. The way forward is to try to regulate cannabis sales in Copenhagen. If the justice minister won’t listen to the residents of Christiania, newspaper editorials, abuse counsellors or a socialist like myself, then he should at least listen to a former justice minister from his own party, who now happens to be the mayor, when he asks: “Dear Morten, is it okay if we sell joints?”
The author is the spokesperson for the Socialistisk Folkeparti on the City Council.