A win-win on drugs? Fighting gangs by legalizing pot

Copenhagen voted overwhelmingly to remove its cannabis prohibition. Here’s why.
Richard Orange

Dec. 02, 2011

MALMO, Sweden — Copenhagen just got a lot closer to legalizing the sale of pot.

If approved by the Danish parliament, next year the city could grant licenses to individual marijuana growers. City-owned shops would then sell their crop to the public.

That prospect was deeply amusing to Israel, a burly dreadlocked Cuban in Christiania, the city’s self-declared “free town.”

"I will grow it!" he said with excessive zeal. "I’ve got this big bag of seeds."

Israel was sitting outside a cafe near Pusher Street, the area’s open-air cannabis market, rolling a succession of monster joints for the locals and tourists who drop by for a smoke.

Copenhagen’s city municipality voted in recent weeks, 39 votes to 9, to empower its social affairs committee to draw up a detailed plan to legalize cannabis.

If that plan is approved by Denmark’s new left-of-centre parliament next year, the city could become the first to legalize marijuana, rather than simply tolerate it, as police do in the Netherlands.

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