Henrik Sass Larsen, a leading MP with the opposition Social Democrats, says Denmark should decriminalize cannabis.
Larsen made the suggestion in a new book in which he discusses the merits of decriminalizing both cannabis and class A drugs, newspaper Information reports.
The MP, who is the chair for the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group, in the book calls efforts to control hard and soft recreational drugs over the last 50 years a “complete fiasco”, according to the newspaper.
“Everything we’ve done in the last 50 years has been in vain,” Larsen told Information.
“There are not fewer people using or abusing drugs. Every school child knows where they can get hash.
“It has served no other purpose than to send a whole lot of people to prison, and the volume of resources society has spent on it has exploded,” the MP continued.
Sass Larsen suggested that the state take control of cannabis sales while users of hard drugs should not be punished.
While conceding that would probably result in an increase in the number of drugs users, he said that significant police resources, currently spent pursuing sales of cannabis and users of hard drugs, would be saved.
Money saved could be used on better education and treatment, he said.
The comments come as something as a surprise given the position of Larsen’s party, the Social Democrats, on the issue.
Copenhagen city officials have previously tried to legalize cannabis within the city, but were rebuffed by the then-Social Democrat government.
In 2014, Social Democrat justice spokesperson Trine Bramsen said that it would be wrong to decriminalize cannabis, according to Information.
“This is a question that splits people along party lines. Trine is positioning herself differently to me. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to convince her [of my viewpoint],” Larsen said to the newspaper.
Left-wing parties the Red-Green Alliance and Alternative have praised Larsen’s comments, Ritzau reports.
Several political parties have in the past thrown their support behind legalization but the three largest parties – the Liberal party, the Social Democrats and Danish People’s Party – remain opposed.
The government has, however, softened its stance on medicinal cannabis by approving a four-year trial program that began in 2018.