Pubdate: Fri, 08 Mar 2002
Source: Copenhagen Post, The (Denmark)
Copyright: 2002 The Copenhagen Post
Contact:  1264 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Phone: 33 36 33 00
Fax: 33 93 13 13
Author: Howard R. Knowles
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


After years of politicians and police turning a blind eye, the government 
is now demanding the immediate cessation of the multi-million kroner 
illegal cannabis trade in the 'free state' of Christiania.

Although the Social Democratic-led government introduced far-reaching 
legislation last summer that provided the police with the authority to 
immediately close down the hundreds of small 'hash-clubs' dotting the 
city's landscape, the sale of myriad types of hash and marijuana on 'Pusher 
Street' in Christiania has continued to flourish. One dealer recently 
estimated that the ubiquitous stalls have a  daily turnover of anything 
between DKK 500,000 and 1million.

Conservative Party spokesman Helge Adam Moller is now demanding a reworking 
of the politically agreed 'framework' for Christiania, which will give 
Christiana residents three weeks to get rid of all drugs and drug dealers 
in Christiania, or risk an annulment of the law that has allowed the old 
'hippy' community to live in relative peace from the authorities for the 
past thirty years.

'We can no longer tolerate the illegal and open cannabis trade that has 
become a part of everyday life out there,' said Moller. 'If Christiania is 
to be allowed to survive, then it has to become as law abiding as every 
other community in Denmark - and if it doesn't, then we'll close it down.'

A spokesperson for Christiania, Britta Lillesoe, called the latest attack 
on Christiania a typical 'knee-jerk reaction' from right-wing politicians. 
'Instead of trying to criminalise the many thousands of customers who enjoy 
hash every day, why don't they consider legalising it instead,' said 
Lillesoe, who has often organised meetings on the public's perception of 
the drug.

However, despite residents' constant claims that the free and open sale of 
cannabis helps to prevent users being tempted by 'harder' drugs, 
Christiania continues to suffer from rumours of biker gangs distributing 
heroin within its walls, and as late as last week was the scene of a 
violent 'showdown' between cannabis traders and young immigrants attempting 
to gain a foothold in the attractive multi-million kroner market.

For the first time in many years, Parliament will begin to discuss the 
thorny issue of Christiania next month.
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