Sweden urges city not to legalise cannabis

Lawmakers in southern Sweden have breathed new life into a smouldering Danish debate over decriminalising marijuana

November 22nd, 2012 10:24 am| by admin

Concerned Swedish lawmakers are calling on Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne) to abandon his efforts to decriminalise cannabis.

In a letter to the mayor, elected officials from 19 local councils in southern Sweden told Jensen they “were against all measures that involve a relaxation of our attitude towards narcotics in the Øresund region”.

Jensen and the City Council have pushed parliament to allow the controlled sale of cannabis as a way to wrest control of the drug trade from criminal gangs.

So far those efforts to persuade parliament have failed, and the Swedish letter makes it clear to the mayor that the feel he shouldn’t press on.

“You run the risk of more young people using the drug if you start selling it in Copenhagen in state-run dispensaries,” Anders Åkesson, the head of the green political party Miljöpartiet, and the president of the Scania regional government, told Sweden’s Sydvenskan newspaper.

Jensen, like a majority of Danes, supports decriminalising cannabis. A former justice minister, Jensen describes police efforts to stop the open sale of cannabis in Copenhagen’s Christiania area as a “vicious spiral”.

"But the way we have tried to limit cannabis over the years has not worked. For the past 20 years, we have made it the job of the police to stop the cannabis trade, but cannabis has never been bigger than it is now," Jensen told The Copenhagen Post in an interview earlier this year.

The opinion, though, is at odds with the position of the city’s police, as well as with the Socialdemokrat-led national government.

Despite originally supporting the decriminalisation of cannabis, the prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne), has admitted she has changed her mind on the issue since 2003, when she herself proposed legalising cannabis on a trial basis.

“I’ve seen how dangerous cannabis is, and the government’s position is crystal clear. We do not support legalised cannabis.” she told the press earlier this year.

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