After three spurned attempts to get a trial programme for legal cannabis off the ground, city officials in Copenhagen will try once again, broadcaster DR reported on Friday.
Led by Mayor Frank Jensen, Copenhagen officials have thrice requested a trial programme that would legalize cannabis in the city, with sales handled by public authorities. Each time, including the most recent effort in 2014, the request has been rejected by the national government.
But now the left-wing Red-Green Alliance and the libertarian-leaning Liberal Alliance (LA) think the time is ripe to try again, especially with an increasing number of Copenhagen shootings that are believed to be the result of rival gangs fighting for control of the illicit cannabis market.
“The past months have seen an intensification in the fight between gangs to dominate the lucrative and illegal market. That causes insecurity for residents,” LA council member Heidi Wang told DR.
The two parties were scheduled to propose a new trial programme on Thursday, with a majority on the Copenhagen City Council expected to back the measure.
If passed, the justice minister and health minister will have to take up the proposal. While recent history indicates that the government is unlikely to back the Copenhagen plan, there have been cracks in Denmark’s traditional hard-line stance on cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.
Last month, the government announced that a four-year trial programme will allow a narrowly-defined patient group to be treated with medical cannabis beginning in 2018.
Additionally, Liberal Alliance, longtime supporters of legalization, are now part of PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s recently-formed coalition government.
Polls have shown that a full 88 percent of Danes support legalizing cannabis for medical use, while a slim majority favour legalizing cannabis for recreational use.
National debates over how to handle cannabis were kicked in to high gear after a shooting in Copenhagen's Christiania district and the removal of permanent cannabis stalls in the district's notorious Pusher Street.
At its peak, the cannabis trade in Pusher Street alone was estimated at one billion kroner per year, money that legalization proponents argue should go to state coffers through legal sales and be used to help fund prevention and treatment programmes.