Drugreporter interviewed Nanna W. Gotfredsen, a street lawyer, activist, and member of the Danish Parliament about the chances of drug policy reform in Denmark at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March.
Many people – including me – used to think it is quite difficult to sell harm reduction to politicians as an alternative to punitive drug policies. Decision makers like to be presented with simple solutions to complex problems. Rather than dealing with underlying inequalities and trauma, they prefer to use policing as a cosmetic tool to “clean” the streets of “deviant” groups, such as homeless people, people who use drugs, and sex workers. We often see how politicians support aggressive law enforcement policies in office and become promoters of harm reduction only after retirement.
But there are some refreshing exceptions: people who become decision makers after they have been engaged in harm reduction activism for a long time, courageously leading the way to new progressive drug policies. One of them is Nanna W. Gotfredsen, the founder of Danish Street Lawyers, a harm reduction organisation that has been at the forefront of drug policy reform in Denmark for several decades. One day she decided it was time to try herself in the world of politics – without becoming a professional politician. She ran for the national parliamentary elections as a candidate of the Moderate Party, with a very honest campaign, and secured a seat as the representative of the capital, Copenhagen.
We met and interviewed Nanna at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna in March 2023, a day after she made a very powerful speech at a side event on Scandinavian drug policies. We talked about how and why she decided to be an MP, why she does not identify as a politician, and how she can use her position to move drug policy reform forwards in Denmark.
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