Denmark Enclave Tears Down Hashish Stands

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. By Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press Writer
    Source: Associated Press

    Copenhagen, Denmark -- Residents and hashish dealers who have openly bought and sold illegal drugs in Copenhagen's famed hippie enclave Christiania for decades demolished their booths Sunday to avoid a crackdown they fear would lead to their eviction.
    The government wants to build upscale housing in the 84-acre area, a former naval barracks that is now a community of about 1,000 people. The government and Danes have been calling for a crackdown on the area's drug sales, which have long been tolerated by police.

    The booths were burned in a bonfire on the grounds of the old naval fort. Using a tractor, crowbars, saws and hammers, dealers and residents tore down the two dozen colorful booths that have stood along the sparsely paved but well-traveled Pusher Street for years.

    ``We don't want (Pusher Street) to be a lever for the government's illegal and amoral plans to close our Christiania,'' the residents said in a statement.

    Last month, a government lawyer reported that residents could be legally evicted from the enclave because the Danish state gave them the right to borrow the land--not rent it--in 1989.

    Christiania took root in 1971 when dozens of hippies moved into the derelict 18th-century navy fort on state-owned land behind the capital's old ramparts.

    They proclaimed their freewheeling society Christiania and it became a counterculture oasis with psychedelic-colored buildings, free marijuana, no government, no cars and no cops.

    In 1987, Christiania was recognized as a ``social experiment'' and in 1989 the government gave residents the right to use the land, though not ownership of it.

    Christiania has become a tourist destination, with some travel guides mentioning it prominently, and Pusher Street appears on several city maps. In May, one of the booths that sold hashish was donated to Denmark's National Museum.

    Since the Liberal-Conservative government took office in 2001, it promised to end the open sale of hashish and ``normalize'' the area by rebuilding.

    Hashish is illegal in Denmark, but sales in Christiania have been tolerated. Christianites banned hard drugs in 1980.

    However, in recent months, police have increased the number of raids to stop the drug deals and residents have been split over eliminating the sales completely.

    Police estimate that illegal hashish sales bring the community at least 8 million kroner (US$1.3 million) every year.

    The decision to tear down the booth came after a discussion among Christianites, said Pernille Hansen, a Christiania spokeswoman, adding she didn't think the sale of hashish there would end.

    Police said they would monitor sales there.

    Source: Associated Press
    Author: Jan M. Olsen, Associated Press Writer
    Published: January 4, 2004
    Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press

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