Denmark Legalizes Consumption Rooms

June 14, 2012

The Danish parliament has voted in favour of legalizing the operation of supervised consumption rooms.

A majority of Danish MPs have voted in favour of a bill that makes it legal to consume illicit drugs within supervised facilities that the law classifies as “safe drug consumption rooms”. Denmark is the first country to have passed legislation to regulate the operation of such facilities. The decision was supported by 63 MPs, with 43 voting against and one MP abstaining. These safe drug consumption rooms are not only open for drug injectors but allow other forms of use as well, such as smoking, which is less risky than injection. According to harm reduction activists, consumption rooms have never been illegal in Denmark. “In a constitutional state, what is not specifically illegal, is simply legal,” said Nanna Gotfredsen, the head of Street Lawyers (join them on Facebook!), an NGO which has been advocating for safe consumption rooms for several years. However, the new law puts an ends to any debate as to the legality of such facilities, which will be able to operate with governmental support from the 1st of July, when the law comes into effect.

Watch the HCLU's 2009 movie about the Street Lawyers of Coppenhagen!

The HCLU's short movie from 2012 about the new safer injection van shows a new innovative project in Copenhagen that can serve as a model of good practice.

Denmark currently has one of the highest overdose death rates in the European Union. Contrary to common belief, overdose is a preventable cause of death, and its prevention does not cost a lot of money: all that is required, is to provide skills and tools for preventing loss of life, and a safe environment for drugs to be used.

Posted by Peter Sarosi