Denmark’s pot business is booming
Despite an increased police focus on cannabis, so much pot is grown in Denmark that it is being exported to other European countries, Jyllands-Posten newspaper reports.
At a time when police are targeting small-scale buyers, and when support for the decriminalisation of cannabis is growing, police raids nationwide are unearthing huge laboratories of homegrown marijuana, particularly high-potency strains of pot known as 'skunk'.
Michael Ask, a spokesperson for Rigspolitiets Nationale Efterforskningscenter, claims that the number of skunk laboratories in Denmark has been increasing over the last year and according to Europol, Denmark is currently one of the top producers of potent pot.
Last year, Task Force Vest, the police group responsible for organised crime, confiscated over a tonne of skunk. Authorities estimate that the mass amount of pot produced in Denmark can't possibly be just for domestic use, and Task Force Vest confirmed that parts of the harvest have been exported to the Netherlands and Sweden.
While skunk labs have been discovered throughout the country, the majority have been found on Funen and in Jutland. The past year, however, has also seen a growing number of busts in the Copenhagen area.
According to Ask, a network of Vietnamese growers is behind the pot production.
"There are several Vietnamese here who have produced skunk in large quantities. It is extremely well organised," Ask told Jyllands-Posten. "Many of the Vietnamese live in the Czech Republic and some of them manage their business from there to the rest of Europe. We have also observed some collaboration between the criminal community in Denmark and the Vietnamese growers."
Ask says that Vietnamese masterminds often bring their countrymen into the Czech Republic and then send them to other European countries, including Denmark, to work in pot-growing labs under extremely harsh conditions.
"They are exposed to really dangerous working conditions,' Ask told Jyllands-Posten. "They don't get much to eat and they stand there all day bent over the plants. It verges on human trafficking."
In an effort to catch the big fish of production, police are working with authorities in Vietnam, as well as police forces in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. Police believe there is a rather small number of masterminds behind a significant portion of the production, and report having several Vietnamese individuals in custody as part of their efforts to put a stop to the booming pot business.
Those who have advocated for legalising cannabis, including most prominently Copenhagen's mayor, Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne), argue that ending prohibition would cut off a major money supply for organised criminals.