State and city reach agreement to close down Pusher Street

Christiania’s residents concede it is no longer something they can safely do without the help of the police

Pusher Street is no ordinary thoroughfare. For decades, it has housed numerous stalls selling cannabis to the public in open view.

During that time, the state has been reasonably tolerant, but about a decade ago it ramped up its policing of the area. Since then, arrests of drug dealers have increased and cannabis buyers are often targeted as they leave the freetown.

In the meantime, the local municipality has been waging its own war. Decriminalising the sale of cannabis, argues mayor Sophie Hæstop Andersen, would put many drug dealers out of business and lead to a fall in crime.

READ MORE: Socialdemokratiet mayoral candidate to legalise cannabis sales

It is a matter that the state and capital city rarely agree on … until yesterday. 

Minister: “So far over the edge”
Yesterday, both the justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard, and Mayor Andersen reached an agreement with Copenhagen Police and representatives of Christiania, including its lawyer Knud Foldschack, to shut down Pusher Street, reports Politiken

Hummelgaard told the newspaper the time has come for action. A dangerous cocktail of different gangs control stalls on the street, and closing it down is no longer a job the residents of Christiania can safely complete without the help from the police.

“Things have now gone so far over the edge, and unfortunately there have been several examples of violence continuing. When the Lord Mayor calls for serious discussions about what we can do, it is in my and the government’s interest to support it,” he explained.

Andersen concurred that the Christianites cannot act alone: “Christiania has the key to something happening, and we find they are ready to discuss it. But they cannot do it alone.”

Mayor: Transform Pusher Street into something new
According to Andersen, something else must replace Pusher Street. 

“That’s why I called a meeting on Monday to talk about how we can make a comprehensive plan so that we can close Pusher Street in the long term. Today we have agreed to draw up a plan that, both in the short and long term, can help transform Pusher Street into something new,” she said.

One of the proposals is a three-year plan submitted by Christianites to replace it with a cultural area mostly focused on theatre and street art, which would also include five new children’s playgrounds.