Prohibition Doesn’t Work: Denmark’s Massive Hash Crackdown Fails

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Photo: Galaxy/.09
Six years into a Danish cannabis crackdown, the only difference is dealers now use tables instead of booths

​Six years later, an expensive and brutal crackdown has only produced one real change in the hash district: Now the dealers use tables instead of booths.

It was six years ago this week that Danish police held their first full-scale raid on Pusher Street, the world famous road in Copenhagen’s hippie district, Christiania, where people openly buy hashish.

The hash raids were the result of the government’s decision to crack down hard to the area’s hash trade. But today, both police and politicians admit the trade still thrives on the street, if in a slightly more discreet way.


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Photo: Euro Holiday
Copenhagen’s Christiania section is friendly to marijuana, but not to hard drugs

​A major difference between then and now, reports The Copenhagen Post, is that the hash dealing is now controlled by the hardest groups of sellers, who have managed to withstand the regular police raids.
Police say some of those people have “gang connections,” and much of the past year’s gang warfare has been directly linked to the drug trade. Surprise, surprise! Prohibition and repression lead to strengthening illegal dealers and violence. Who’d’ve thunk it?
“If the goal was to stop the trafficking of hashish in Christiania, then it has absolutely not succeeded,” said Peter Ibsen, president of the Police Officers Federation. “I think the best thing you can say is that the booths are gone in Pusher Street. But hash is still being sold as much as it ever was.”

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Photo: Tainted Thoughts
Welcome to Christiania. How may I help you?

​”So far a ban and a massive police operation have not produced any results,” said Karina Lorentzen, legal spokeswoman for the Socialist People’s Party.
Lorentzen said the only thing the police raids have done is to spread the hash trade out into the rest of Copenhagen. She has proposed that the government set up a Hash Commission to study the issue more closely.
Kirsten Larsen, a Christiania resident, said she believes there may be even more hash dealing now than there was six years ago.
“Anybody can see that Pusher Street is alive and functioning,” Larsen said. “I’d even say the trade is growing, because there may not be enough funding available for the same massive police actions that began in 2004,” she said.
Merchants have now replaced the old hash booths with fold-up tables and wooden blocks featuring the various types of hashish and marijuana for sale.
According to police, they just need “more resources” to stop the hash trade. Yep, that oughta do it. Throw good money after bad in pot prohibition, and the pot just goes away, like it did when the United States spent billions to stop it! Hey, wait a minute…
Danish politicians are still split on hashish, with left wing parties believing things were better when Christiania was left to its own, free-market devices. (Notice to all the libertarians who say liberals will never, ever advocate for less government: That just happened.)
For now, Larsen said that one noticeable difference since the massive crackdown is the more tense atmosphere of the area, in stark contrast to the period before 2004. She said it can often feel as if “eyes nervously follow you around.”
“But that’s because the police raids have left only the hardest criminals controlling the trade,” Larsen said. “And that inevitably means that we have to fight internally to keep the harder drugs out of Christiania.”
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