• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Denmark to look at decriminalising drugs

The Local · 27 Jul 2014, 10:30

Published: 27 Jul 2014 10:30 GMT+02:00

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for the decriminalisation of drugs will be taken up by Danish politicians in the autumn. 
 
In the WHO report, which focused on international HIV prevention, the UN agency encourages countries to stop criminalising the use of drugs.
 
“Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalise injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration,” the report read.
 
The report’s recommendation, and Denmark’s overall approach to its national drug policy, will be on the political agenda when politicians return to Christiansborg following summer holiday. 
 
“I can go as far today as to say that I think WHO’s message is in line with what has been a Social Democratic position,” Flemming Møller Mortensen, the health spokesman for the governing Social Democrats, told Information.
 
“I will take up a discussion with Parliament’s Health Committee [Sundhedsudvalget] after summer holiday and will recommend that the committee carry out a hearing,” he added.
 
The Social Democrats have had a very public split over drug policy. Copenhagen’s mayor Frank Jensen, the party’s vice chair, has vocally advocated for the legalisation of cannabis, while his party’s national leaders, including PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, have repeatedly rejected his proposal. 
 
 
Over in the camp of the left-wing Socialist People’s Party (SF), legal spokeswoman Karina Lorentzen said that Denmark’s current drug policies have failed.
 
“I can’t see how our current approach has helped at all. On the contrary, we have created a very lucrative market for organised criminals,” she told Information. 
 
She pointed to Portugal’s success with decriminalising drugs. Since that country changed its drug policies in 2001, it has seen a sharp decrease in drug abuse.
 
“Those types of models apparently offer an effective approach, and I just think that we have reached the limits of what can be achieved by using police and punishment as the means to fight this,” she said. 
 
On the other side of the political aisle, the Conservative party’s spokesman Tom Behnke said the party “was not resigned to decriminalisation”. 
 
Story continues below…
“There is a good reason that it is illegal, and that is because it is dangerous to be on drugs. On the other hand, we do need to admit that there are people who take these drugs so we need to try to respond to that. The important thing is to have a good treatment program, so we can help people break their addictions,” he told Information.
 
The Social Democrats’ Mortensen agreed that the health aspect of drug addiction should be given more weight.
 
“It is true that here in Denmark, the health part has been a bit secondary in relation to the legal framework, and that is not the right way to tackle this development if we want to improvement the health aspect,” he said.
 
According to the 2014 European Drug Report, the 35.6 percent of Danes who admit to having smoked cannabis in their lifetime is the highest proportion among European countries. Danes’ next drug of choice is amphetamines, with a lifetime prevalence of 6.6 percent, followed by cocaine at 5.2 percent. 
 
In June 2012, Denmark passed legislation allowing for legal injection rooms. The one that opened in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro district in August 2012 has widely been viewed as a success and led to similar clinics opening in Odense and Aarhus. The Danish Health and Medicines Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) gave the injection rooms the lion’s share of the credit for the fact that drug-related deaths have reached their lowest level in nearly 20 years. 

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Cage eggs soon to be a thing of the past in Denmark
Cage eggs are laid by hens that never see the light of day. Photo: Vi Ælsker Æg

Denmark’s largest retail company will stop selling eggs laid by cage chickens.

Brexit gives Danes new record cheap home loans
Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix

With Brexit having created instability on the global financial markets, there has never been a better time to take out a home loan in Denmark.

Roskilde Festival 2016
Finding 'the Orange Feeling' in Roskilde's campgrounds
The camping grounds provide a good mix of planned as well and spontaneous parties. Photo: Bobby Anwar

The main music might not start until Wednesday, but for many guests the campground pre-parties are what Roskilde is all about.

Roskilde Festival 2016
The Local's not-quite-live Roskilde 2016 blog
The Sunday night party at Ghettoblaster. Photo: Bobby Anwar

We'll be on hand all week as a field in Roskilde is temporarily turned in to the fourth largest city in Denmark.

Danish health agency plans for a smoke-free Denmark

Health authorities recommend higher tobacco prices, plain packaging and a national strategy for phasing out smoking.

Danes want legal cannabis, but govt vows crackdown
Police have torn down Pusher Street cannabis stalls three times since June 17th. Each time, they are rebuilt. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

A majority of Danes support legalizing cannabis at the same time the government is preparing new hardline initatives.

Danish 'devil of death' nurse gets life for killing patients
Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Scanpix

A Danish nurse, dubbed a "devil of death" by prosecutors, was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for murdering three patients and trying to kill a fourth.

Brexit
Brits in Denmark left shocked and concerned by Brexit
British expats in Denmark were left feeling like these supporters of the 'Stronger In' campaign who watched the referendum result in London early on Friday. Photo: Rob Stothard/AFP/Scanpix

The Local spoke with a handful of British expats living in Denmark on Friday and not a single one was happy about the referendum result.

Roskilde Festival 2016
8 key questions ahead of this year’s Roskilde Festival
It's that time again! Roskilde begins on Saturday. Photo: Tobias Nicolai/Roskilde Festival

Denmark's biggest party is about to kick off – here's what we'll be keeping our eyes on as The Local once again heads to Roskilde.

Brexit
Denmark vows to defend euro peg after Brexit vote
The Danish krone has had a fixed exchange rate since 1982. Photo: Colourbox

National Bank "will do what it necessary to maintain a stable exchange rate".

Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
National
Denmark scraps green card but spares current holders
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Society
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
National
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
National
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
National
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
Travel
The second best destination in all of Europe is...
Sport
We are the champions! Denmark wins world badminton team title
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
National
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
Society
Strangest political story in Denmark just got stranger
International
Keeping Denmark in Europol 'maybe impossible'
Analysis & Opinion
Green card holders tell Denmark to keep its promise
National
Denmark picks F-35 in historic jet purchase
Society
Denmark to no longer define transgender as mental illness
National
Danish minister tells 'Sharia' troublemakers to 'get a job'
Culture
Danish 'martyr' exhibit reported to police
2,263
jobs available