[sixties-l] Danish Politicians Seek Cannabis Crackdown in Christiania (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Fri Mar 15 2002 - 05:11:59 EST

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    Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 00:29:56 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Danish Politicians Seek Cannabis Crackdown in Christiania

    Danish Politicians Seek Cannabis Crackdown in Christiania


    While contemporary anarchists have for the past decade dreamt of
    establishing "temporary autonomous zones" free of outside
    authority, the residents of the Copenhagen neighborhood of
    Christiania have constructed a permanent autonomous zone that has
    flourished for the past three decades on what was once a Danish
    barracks and army base. The residents of Christiania have
    organized communally to provide for basic services and have long
    campaigned to keep hard drugs and violence out of the area, but
    Christiania is most well-known for its open hashish and marijuana
    markets, particularly along the aptly-named Pusher Street. But
    now, in the latest of a series of occasional attacks on the hippy
    haven over the years, conservative Danish politicians are vowing
    to end the commune's famously tolerant attitudes toward soft drugs
    -- and if they can't do that, to end the commune itself.

    The move highlights a contradiction between Danish social reality
    and its cannabis laws. Denmark, along with Britain, has the
    highest levels of cannabis consumption on the continent.
    According to the latest survey by the European Monitoring Center
    for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 34% of young adult Danes and 25% of
    all adult Danes have smoked cannabis. And while cannabis
    possession is a crime under Danish law, possession for personal
    use is rarely prosecuted. But parts of Danish society have a
    problem with smokers having someplace to obtain the weed.

    "We can no longer tolerate the illegal and open cannabis trade
    that has become a part of everyday life out there," Conservative
    Party spokesman Helge Adam Moller told the Copenhagen Post on
    March 8. "If Christiania is allowed to survive, then it has to
    become as law-abiding as every other community in Denmark -- and
    if it doesn't, we'll close it down," he threatened.

    And the Danish government is moving to do so. Last year, the
    center-left government led by the Social Democrats passed
    legislation that gave police the authority to close down what the
    Post called "hundreds of small 'hash clubs,'" and while
    Christiania has so far escaped unscathed, the political landscape
    has shifted. In elections last fall, the Social Democrat-led
    coalition lost control to a center-right coalition led by the
    Liberal Party, in alliance with the Conservatives. Now Moller and
    the Conservatives are calling for a reworking of the political
    framework that governs relations between the commune and the
    Danish state. Under Moller's plan, Christiana would have three
    weeks to remove all drugs and drug dealers or the law allowing the
    community to exist in peace from the authorities would be

    A spokesperson for Christiania, a radically democratic "Free City"
    of about one thousand people on 60 acres in Copenhagen, blasted
    the Conservatives. "Instead of trying to criminalize the many
    thousands of customers who enjoy hash every day, why don't they
    consider legalizing it instead," Britta Lillesoe told the Post.
    It was a "knee-jerk reaction" from right-wing politicians, she

    The conflict is not new. Founded by squatters and hippies who
    crawled through a fence onto an abandoned military base and set up
    shop in the early 1971, Christiania has alternately been tolerated
    by authorities and targeted by them. While conflicts have flared
    over taxation, the provision of services, and "slummification,"
    much of the tension between the commune and the state has centered
    on drugs. In 1979, with hard drug use spiraling out of control
    and the state threatening to assert control, residents formed the
    Junk Blockade to evict all hard drug sellers and users.

    Since then, the Christiania drug scene has largely centered on
    cannabis, but open sales of the drug have led to repeated clashes
    with police throughout the 1990s. The Danish government has
    repeatedly threatened to end the "Free City," and now another
    offensive is underway. Parliament will be discussing the future
    of Christiania next month, the Post reported.

    But Christianites are well-schooled in defending their
    prerogatives no matter what the government does. A bit of history
    from the Free City's Moonfisher Coffeehouse provides some
    Christiania flavor: "The Moonfisher like all the other bars in
    Christiania had a really hard period in the end of the 80's
    beginning 90's, the government pressured Christiania to get the
    bars and restaurants registrated and to pay their taxes. We
    refused to agree having the good reason of not being government
    supported in our institutions like for example kindergartens or
    the garbage team. The battle raged back and forth for a little
    while and in the end the Moonfisher lost all stock and inventory
    and was forced to get registrated," the coffeehouse wrote on its
    web site. "From 1990 to 1993 Moonfisher had a liquor licence, but
    still problems with the police because of too much weed-smoking in
    the place. 1993 the government threatened to take our liquor
    licence if we didn't stop all the smokers in the cafe, but how can
    we run a coffeeshop in Christiania and not smoke, impossible. So
    we decided that they can take the licence and put it somewhere
    where the sun don't shine, we'd rather smoke than drink, and we
    have been a coffeeshop ever since."

    (Visit http://www.christiania.org for much more information on the
    "Free City" and its history, inhabitants, politics, business and
    social life.)

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