The city of Copenhagen has approved a proposal that, if given the okay from Denmark’s parliament, would allow the city to establish a legal system for distributing cannabis. Proponents of the idea argue that taking cannabis off the criminal market and regulating it legally would eliminate the crime currently associated with its distribution:
It is these people, the biker and immigrant gangs who manage the city’s drug supplies, that [mayor in charge of social affairs at Copenhagen City Council Mikkel] Warming wants to cut out.
“People who use marijuana are paying money to criminals, mostly to gang members, and it’s a market that every year, is worth up to two billion Danish kroner ($350 million). That’s enough to fight for, which is why we’ve had a war between the gangs in Copenhagen,” he said.
That’s why he doesn’t want to institute a system where smoking marijuana is tolerated in cannabis cafes, but officially illegal, and therefore profitable for criminals to grow and import.
Copenhagen effectively operated such a system in Christiania until 2004, when the police moved in and shut the district’s thriving cannabis cafes, forcing the trade into street stalls.
And it still exists in the Netherlands today, although Dutch authorities are tightening up.
“We don’t want an Amsterdam model,” Warming said. “We want a way to make it legal to import or grow marijuana.”
The Danes know a thing or two about good governance, and I’m confident that they will move forward with this sensible, crime-reduction proposal. They should also be commended for realizing that the Dutch model of decriminalized personal use with no legal means for producing cannabis is confused and counterproductive. That’s precisely why we did not settle for a purely decriminalization measure here in Missouri. The only way to eliminate the criminal market associated with cannabis production and distribution is to regulate its sale in the same way we regulate tobacco and alcohol.