Cannabis and cannabis-related activities, including cultivation, smoking, possession, import, export, and sale, are illegal in Denmark. However, the prescription of certain derivatives of cannabis for medical purposes is allowed.
Anyone caught in possession of small quantities of cannabis – or up to 9.9 grams – for personal use is required to pay a fine. In certain cases, a warning is given instead of a fine. For larger quantities, which is more than 100 grams, offenders get a prison sentence. Harsher sentences will also be imposed if a person is caught in possession of an excessive amount of cannabis (10 kg or more) and if the cannabis has been determined to be for distribution purposes and for large profit. More severe violations of Denmark’s Euphoriants Substances Act may also result to an extended 10 – 16 years in prison.
Meanwhile, individuals driving under the influence of weed or with the smallest amount of THC in the blood get to pay a fine and will lose their driver’s license.
Under Danish law, there are only two legal forms of medical cannabis: Marinol and Sativex. These two cannabinoid-based drugs can be prescribed only to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and certain cancer types. This means that it is illegal for anyone to possess other forms of cannabis in the country. Travelers are also advised against bringing any kind of medical marijuana to Denmark, regardless of its legality in their home country.
Majority of Danes favor legalizing medical marijuana
According to a Gallup poll published in the Berlingske newspaper, 88 per cent of Danes favor the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, while a slim majority support legalizing the substance for recreational use. Of those who favor legalization, 72 per cent said that it should be the state that should control the sales.
This debate on the legalization of cannabis was sparked by a shooting incident at the Christiania District in Copenhagen in August 2016 and the police’s removal of stalls in the district’s Pusher Street open-air cannabis market. The shooting incident at Christiania left four people injured, including the gunman and two officers.
Cannabis has been sold in Pusher Street since 1971, when people squatted on a former military barracks in an attempt to build a “free town” that is independent of the state’s authority. The police regularly carries out large-scale actions here, and each time officers clear out the market, stalls get rebuilt and business resumes. Annual sales at Pusher Street have been estimated at one billion kroner. Legalization proponents argue that this money only ends up in organized criminals’ hands, instead of being redirected to Denmark’s state coffers.
Medical marijuana trial
In late 2016, the Danish government announced that doctors will soon be able to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes to certain patients. There is a four-year trial program that will take effect on January 1, 2018, and that will make it legally possible for patients in a defined patient group to be treated with medicinal marijuana within the country’s healthcare system. The Danish Medicine Authority determined that medical conditions eligible for the treatment are chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.
The Health Ministry stated that this four-year medicinal cannabis trial is going to be evaluated before parliament can decide whether this should be made permanent.
For many, the trial program signals Denmark’s departure from its traditional hard-line position on cannabis.
How about recreational cannabis?
There are several political parties that back the total legalization of marijuana. However, the country’s three largest parties – Social Democrats, Danish People’s Party, and Venstre – maintain their stance against legalizing the use of cannabis for recreational use.