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Does leader of Danish party really want to legalise cocaine?

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Does leader of Danish party really want to legalise cocaine?
Liberal Alliance leader Alex Vanopslagh received on Wednesday an award for political communication, while also being reported as saying cocaine should be legalised. Photo: Emil Nicolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Alex Vanopslagh, the leader of the libertarian opposition party Liberal Alliance, has been criticised for saying in a podcast that cocaine should be legalised.

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“If you are a grown man, have control of your life and want to take some cocaine three times a year at a party, I think that should be legal,” Vanopslagh said in a podcast with comedian Casper Christensen.

“I think to start with we should decriminalise, but in the longer term legalise and regulate it,” he also said.

Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard went after Vanopslagh in a social media post in response to those comments.

“In my view, Vanopslagh’s point of view is theoretical libertarianism at its most extreme and detached from reality,” Hummelgaard wrote on Facebook.

In the podcast “Casper 3080 Tikøb”, Vanopslagh started by saying that cocaine use should be decriminalised – a position Liberal Alliance has stated in the past – before going a step further and advocating legalisation.

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“I have no need to stop it unless it’s a big problem. It would be [a problem] if you are addicted or if the drugs are very impure,” he said.

In the podcast, the party leader also sets out a number of conditions under which he sees a potential framework for legal cocaine sales.

“You go to a pharmacy or whatever and say, ‘this is 100 percent pure’. You get a little note saying, ‘hey, if you experience these symptoms, ring this number. And don’t take more than this amount in an evening’. That way, you promote responsible use of it,” he said.

The party leader noted that the model could have some drawbacks: for example, that legalisation could result in more people taking the drug, resulting in more using it irresponsibly, he said.

“But I just think you can come a long way with information,” he said.

In comments subsequently given to DR, he appeared to tone down the suggestion that pharmacies could sell cocaine.

“That’s not [a good idea] right now. You have to start by rethinking social politics so you don’t criminalise people with an addiction. So it’s correct that I theorised in a podcast whether you could imagine there would be more ‘harm reduction’ and less damage if you rethink that,” he said.

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He also said that although he had discussed legalisation, that “Liberal Alliance’s policy is to decriminalise.”

DR asked Torben Vangsted, a consultant on addiction with Odense Municipality, about Vanopslagh’s argument the existing laws against cocaine use do not work.

“He’s certainly right about that to a good extent. And it’s also a challenge for me that we’re doing something that doesn’t work. But I just doubt that the answer is to legalise it. But I have to admit I don’t have the answer to what we could do instead,” he said.

“Because it’s certain that as long as it’s left to criminals and an illegal market, we have no control over it at all. I’m just not sure legalisation is the answer,” he said.

He also said that “legalisation would be a signal to young people that this is not as dangerous as we’ve been saying. That would make some people on the edge of taking it see it as a signal to take it,” he said.

 

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