Stop criminalising pot smokers, demonstrators say

A small group gathered outside the City Hall, where a conference was held on the city’s ambition to decriminalise cannabis

“I’m not psychotic!” a young man shouts from the back of the City Hall’s banquet room, where around 150 people have gathered to hear about the city’s plan to implement a trial legalisation of cannabis.

The man’s outburst arrived after a politician said she was concerned that more people would smoke cannabis, and subsequently suffer mental health problems, if the trial were to go ahead.

Outside on the town hall square, Rådhuspladsen, the man, 24-year-old Christian Holm, told The Copenhagen Post that he was tired of listening to prejudices about cannabis users.

“I don’t like the way that cannabis smokers are automatically put under suspicion simply because of their choice of drug,” Holm said. “There might be a link between cannabis and psychosis, but there are different ways of looking at it. For example, people with mental problems may be drawn to smoking marijuana, or the psychosis may develop in people that are already predisposed to mental difficulties.”

Holm is on the board of the pro-cannabis association Propaganja whose objective is to promote legal cannabis and share information about the plant. His view is that the city should open up the sale of cannabis to the free market which would be allowed to produce, sell and consume cannabis without fear of arrest.

Christian Holm, 24, does not think more people will start using cannabis if it is legalised (Photo: Peter Stanners)“I really don’t think more people will end up smoking it if it were legal because it’s so easily available across the whole country,” Holm said. “The country has probably reached a saturation point of users already.”

While a demonstration in support of the city’s plan had been arranged, only about 30 people huddled in the cold under a bright midday sky, some holding signs declaring 'Free Marijuana'.

A group of young people sit in a circle rolling joints that they smoke in front of eager television crews.

One of them is 17-year-old Samuel Pollas, an upper secondary student who said he had attended to show support for changing the law.

“It’s crazy that cannabis isn’t already legal,” Pollas told The Copenhagen Post. “I smoke it at least once a week but I don’t like the fact that I’m supporting criminals. The plant itself also really useful and has some good properties that we are missing out on because of the law.”

While 150 people attended the conference on legalising cannabis in City Hall, only a few dozen attended a demonstration in support of the plan outside (Photo: Peter Stanners)Sitting nearby is 15-year-old Silke Poulsen, who was eager to see the end of the criminal gangs that sell cannabis and operate out of the freetown Christiania

“If we legalised cannabis, the state would earn money and the pushers might end up leaving Christiania. It’s such a lovely place and it would be even better without them,” Poulsen said.

Earlier in the day, Britta Lillesøe from Christiania Listen, a political party representing Christiania in the local elections, expressed a similar view.

“[Legalising cannabis] will definitely benefit Christiania by reducing the level of crime,” Lillesøe told The Copenhagen Post.

“Even though I don’t smoke it, I support legal cannabis because I think it has some benefits and I don’t think people get dumber from smoking it. I have some really bright friends who have smoked for years and are just fine. What’s wrong is criminalising people. That needs to stop.”