Copenhagen Set to Legalize Marijuana

World | November 18, 2011, Friday // 20:28
Bulgaria: Copenhagen Set to Legalize Marijuana A file picture dated 17 February 2011 shows the entrance to Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark. Christiania, which is a celebrated Danish hippy enclave and heart of the Copenhagen cannabis trade, marked its 40th anniversary on 26 Sept 2011. EPA/BGNES

Denmark's capital Copenhagen is about to become the first city to technically legalize marijuana after its City Council has voted to approve a scheme to sell the drug through a network of state-operated stores.

The decision is yet to be approved by the Danish Parliament in early 2012 even though it voted down a previous proposal submitted by Copenhagen City Council three years ago, international media report.

Marijuana is already sold openly on the streets of Christiania, a self-proclaimed "free town" in the city center, despite the closure of the neighbourhood's Amsterdam-style coffee shops in 2004, the Telegraph points out.

But marijuana has never been officially decriminalized and those caught with small amounts face fines of up to EUR 450.

"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," Mikkel Warming, the Mayor in charge of Social Affairs at Copenhagen City Council, is quoted as saying.

"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 Warming's Social Affairs committee to draw up a detailed outline of how the plan would work.

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

He said he was opposed to instituting cannabis caf?s, where marijuana use is tolerated, despite it remaining illegal to grow and import the drug.

This, he argued, would leave the revenues, which are estimated at EUR 200 M, 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 illegal but are tolerated.

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Tags: Copenhagen, Denmark, Christiania, marijuana, drug, drugs, legalization, legalize

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