Pubdate: Fri, 18 Nov 2011
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2011 Telegraph Media Group Limited
Author: Richard Orange, Malmo


Marijuana could soon be legalised in Copenhagen, after the city voted
overwhelmingly in favour of a scheme that would see the drug sold
through a network of state-run shops and cafes.

The scheme, if approved by the Danish parliament at the start of next
year, could make the city the first to fully legalise, rather than
simply tolerate, marijuana consumption.

The drug is already sold openly on the streets of Christiania, a
self-proclaimed 'free town' in the city centre, despite the closure of
the neighbourhood's Amsterdam-style coffee shops in 2004.

But marijuana has never been officially decriminalised and those
caught in possession of even small amounts face fines of up to UKP

"We are thinking of perhaps 30 to 40 public sales houses, where the
people aren't interested in selling you more, they're interested in
you," said Mikkel Warming, the Mayor in charge of Social Affairs at
Copenhagen City Council. "Who is it better for youngsters to buy
marijuana from? A drug pusher, who wants them to use more, who wants
them to buy hard drugs, or a civil servant?"

The City Council voted on Thursday night, by a margin of 39 votes to
nine, to empower Mr Warming's Social Affairs committee to draw up a
detailed outline of how the plan would work.

The proposal will then be sent to to the Danish Parliament for
approval early next year.

"We want to make it a little bit more concrete what kind of
decriminalisation we want: should it be a public buying system, should
there be an age limit?" Mr Warming explained.

He said he was opposed to instituting cannabis cafes, where marijuana
use is tolerated, despite it remaining illegal to grow and import the

This, he argued, would leave the revenues, which are estimated at UKP
200m, in the control of the city's notorious biker gangs.

"We don't want an Amsterdam model. We want a way to make it legal to
import or grow marijuana." he said.

Cannabis possession and production in the Netherlands are still
technically punishable by fines. Its notorious coffee shops are also
illegally but are tolerated.

The Danish parliament voted down a previous proposal submitted by
Copenhagen City Council three years ago.
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