Proposed Bethlehem drug rehabilitation center would have extra security, official says

former calvary baptist church Testimony continued tonight on a proposed 70-bed drug rehabilitation facility at the former Calvary Baptist Church on Dewberry Avenue in Bethlehem.

A sister facility of the drug rehabilitation center proposed to be built next to Bethlehem Catholic High School operates effectively with far less security than the one in Bethlehem would have, an official told city zoning officials tonight.

Operator Malvern Institute would staff a security guard 24 hours a day at its proposed facility off Dewberry Avenue but posts a guard only four to seven hours a day at its home facility in Chester County, Chief of Security Tim Hubbard told the zoning hearing board.

Hubbard said there have been few problems at the facility during his four years as security chief or the 15 years in total he’s been a local police officer. There have been “rare occasions” when drugs have been smuggled in and only two incidents in four years where the police were called, he said.

The two incidents were a minor physical altercation between a resident and a staff member, and a case in which one resident stole another resident’s portable music player, Hubbard said.

Tonight’s hearing was the third for a proposal to open a 70-bed inpatient drug rehabilitation facility at the former Calvary Baptist Church at 111 Dewberry Ave. Several dozen residents again attended tonight’s hearing to object to the facility’s proposed location next to Bethlehem Catholic High School and in a residential neighborhood.

Blake Marles, the attorney for developer Abraham Atiyeh, pointed out that Bethlehem only allows inpatient drug rehabilitation facilities in residential neighborhoods. Malvern CEO Joseph Curran said he believes drug detoxification and rehabilitation works best within communities.

Bethlehem Catholic High School, Bethlehem City Council and a group of local residents all have hired separate attorneys to fight the proposed center. Residents’ attorney Steven Goudsouzian asked Hubbard if he knew the intent of drug-free school zones and if he agreed students are a susceptible population.

“High school students are susceptible to people with malicious intent,” Goudsouzian said.

Hubbard said he agreed that students are more easily influenced but that Malvern patients have to stop their drug use when they are admitted.

“They are not actively engaging in illegal activity while at Malvern,” he said.

Hubbard said he would have no problem with his children attending a high school next to a drug rehabilitation facility.

Becahi attorney Joseph Leeson Jr. twice brought up state department of health violations against Malvern’s inpatient facility in Chester County. Leeson pointed out that the facility’s violations have tripled from six in 2008 to 18 in 2011.

“The violations cover a variety of areas,” Curran responded.

Curran didn’t go into detail, but department of health records search showed the violations varied greatly.

Most were record keeping violations such as failing to conduct some employee evaluations or filing proper paperwork. Several in 2011 concerned an ongoing bedbug problem. One recent violation dealt with a patient using heroin within a facility bathroom.

Curran testified that because Malvern only accepts insured patients or those who can pay out of pocket, most of its patients are fairly high functioning, mostly still employed and with intact families.

“It’s not likely our person would be different than the person that is next door in the community,” Curran said.

Tonight’s hearing went for more than four hours without a vote. Testimony will be continued at 4 p.m. Dec. 19 with one more developer’s witness. Objectors will get to testify in January, officials said.

Atiyeh also has proposed a 60-bed drug rehabilitation center for juveniles within the 3400 block of Linden Street in the city. That proposal has yet to be considered by the zoning hearing board.

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T.I. Says Eminem Helped Him Beat Drug Addiction

Eminem‘s very public struggle with — and victory over — drug addiction has inspired millions of people, to the tune of 5.7 million copies of his fittingly titled 2010 album Recovery sold worldwide. Count T.I. as one of them. He recently credited Slim Shady with helping him to overcome his own addiction to painkillers.

After being released from his first prison stay in 2010, T.I. underwent several oral surgeries, and was prescribed oxycontin and hydrocodone to deal with the resulting pain. Unfortunately, as happens all too often with those drugs (ask Rush Limbaugh), a medical necessity quickly spiraled into addiction. Confronting the problem head on, T.I. reached out to Eminem for advice. “I asked him how he knew he was an addict,” Tip told VIBE in 2010. “[He said] basically, if you put yourself in harm’s way … if you risk that, you’ve got to assume that there is something fundamentally wrong with your thought process.”


T.I. again saluted his friendship with Eminem in a recent interview with, calling him an “enormous supporter” and citing him as a major inspiration as Tip struggles with addiction, legal troubles and public scrutiny. “I haven’t had a chance to speak to Em since I’ve been home,” T.I. said. “I heard that while I was down, he was trying to get in touch with me, but I don’t know if the dots just didn’t connect. [Eminem] overcoming his own adversities, winning the battle against his own demons within himself and continuing to break the mold and re-set the standard of what it means to be the most successful hip hop artist in the game … I salute that to no end.”


T.I. also gave major props to Em’s work with his label, Shady Records. “I love what he’s doing with Slaughterhouse,” he said. “I love the move that he made to sign Yelawolf. And the record with him and Royce da 5’9″ … that record is going H.A.M. He killed that BET Hip Hop Awards cypher. I’ve been peeping the move.”


With a new, sober outlook on life after completing his recent prison sentence earlier this year, T.I. also had advice for others facing similar troubles — whether it be with drugs or the law.


“It starts with you on the inside,” he said. “I can give all the advice in the world, but at the end of the day you just got to make that decision internally with yourself. You have to see that you are ready to make a change. Until that moment comes, all advice in the world is going to be in vain ’cause I’m going to be talking to a brick wall.”


“Everybody can tell you what you need to do, how to do it, when you need to do it, how bad you need to do it,” he continued. “But until you get that right ass-whipping, as they say, and until you have hit rock bottom or have seen something in yourself that is so out of character and it displeases you so much that you just have no choice but to change it … then you ain’t going to see it.”

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George Harrison Remembered, Ten Years On

George Harrison Remembered, Ten Years On

The much-missed Beatle was perfectly honest about the addiction that killed him: smoking.

George Harrison, the “quiet Beatle” known as the soul of the band, died 10 years ago today, aged 58. Among the tributes to his brilliant career, it’s worth noting that while the cause of his death is generally reported as cancer, what really killed the Beatles’ lead guitarist—as he freely admitted—was nicotine addiction. He smoked an average of three packs a day for three decades, starting when he was in his teens.

“I got it purely from smoking,” he said when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997. “I gave up cigarettes many years ago, but had started again for a while and then stopped this year.” In 2001 he had surgery for lung cancer, but within months the tumors had metastasized in his brain. Told he might only have weeks to live, he desperately underwent a controversial—and very costly—experimental treatment to bombard the brain tumor with radiation. (The doctor involved, Gilbert Lederman, spent the next ten years promoting himself as “George Harrison’s doctor” and was eventually found guilty of malpractice in a sweeping lawsuit covering 20 wrongful death claims.) Harrison died a few months later. 

In the decade since Harrison’s death, tobacco control and bans have cut US rates of cigarette smoking and lung cancer—but only by 2 or 3 percent, according to the CDC. Not surprisingly, the incidence of the disease mirrors rates of smoking state-by-state—which in turn closely shadow anti-smoking regs. Since the recession, however, funding to implement these laws has fallen to near zero in many states. The biggest change may be measured less in terms of public health than public attitudes. When George Harrison was dying of lung cancer, it was his smoking “habit” that was blamed. Now we understand smoking as an addiction—and nicotine as the hardest substance of all to quit.

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‘War Of The Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality’

If you receive the local HD channels on Cox Cable without the use of a Cox Cable box you will need to rescan (AutoProgram) your TV on November 29, 2011. If you use a Cox Set top box, Cox Cable will make these changes remotely. KPBS TV has moved from 711 to 1011. V-me has moved from channel 111 to 811.

Evening Edition

Amita Sharma interviews renowned author and speaker Deepak Chopra. Evening Edition airs weekdays at 6:30 PM on KPBS TV

‘War Of The Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality’

Discussion on science vs. spirituality.

Aired 11/29/11


Deepak Chopra, renowned spiritual leader and best-selling author.

Leonard Mlodinow, esteemed Caltech physicist and best-selling author.

‘War Of The Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality’

Above: Book: War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality

Acclaimed Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow and spiritual leader Deepak Chopra are both bestselling authors.

Now they’re exchanging ideas in their new book, “War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality.”

On Midday Edition (audio on left), Chopra and Mlodinow discuss some of their thoughts about what they deem are the most important questions humans can possibly answer. Among them: How did the universe emerge? What is life? What makes us human? Is God an illusion?

All of these questions are discussed and dissected from the often opposing viewpoints of science and spirituality in their book.

We’ll have more with them on KPBS Evening Edition on Tuesday. You can watch it here after Tuesday evening.

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Conrad Murray Gets Four Years

Conrad Murray Gets Four Years

Michael Jackson’s doctor receives the maximum sentence for the involuntary manslaughter of the superstar.

Conrad Murray, most famously Michael Jackson’s “Dr. Feelgood,” was sentenced today to four years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter of the late King of Pop. The four-year term is the maximum allowed under state law and could be seen as a warning shot to scrip-happy docs. But some speculate the term may be cut in half due to California’s prison overcrowding. Murray’s lawyers requested a probationary sentence, but were denied by the judge. The disgraced doctor said he prescribed Michael Jackson the powerful anesthetic Propofol to help him sleep, and was charged with causing his death. Defense attorneys were unable to convince jurors of their client’s innocence in the six-week trial. “The defendant has displayed a complete lack of remorse for causing Michael Jackson’s death,” prosecutors stated. Murray’s lawyers countered, “There is no question that the death of his patient, Mr. Jackson, was unintentional and an enormous tragedy for everyone affected.” Jackson family members, who claimed Michael was not an addict and pressed for the maximum sentence, wrote, “We are not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do today that will bring Michael back.”

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Ecstasy Claims More Young Lives

Ecstasy Claims More Young Lives

The other chemicals frequently found in what’s sold as ecstasy or MDMA cloud the issue of how dangerous X really is (or isn’t).

Ecstasy—or something posing as it—has been blamed for the deaths of two young British club-goers, with at least 20 more party-goers hospitalized after an all-night dance marathon in London. The exact cause isn’t yet established, and reports are vague: the British press variously blames heat stroke, dehydration, and heart failure. “Death by Ecstasy” has been tabloid fodder for so long now that we tend to either take it for granted, or assume they got it wrong: the UK’s most famous example was in 1995 with the hugely publicized case of Leah Betts, an 18-year old who fell into a coma and died after taking Ecstasy. X was also blamed for 6 deaths due to excessive body temperature in Florida recently. The Florida X turned out to be PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine) or a similar derivative. Some of these knock-off drugs mimic the chemical composition of X, but the effects can be vastly different. Science has claimed both that X harms your brain—and that those tests were wrong, and it’s relatively harmless. Then there’s the question of what’s really in the stuff sold. All kinds of alternative chemicals show up in studies of purported MDMA. Professor David Nutt, a former UK drug policy adviser who was fired for his controversial views, calls for a program allowing club-goers to test their ecstasy without fear of arrest. Predictably, this is yet to be adopted. Drug policy experts tell Addiction Inbox that surveys show young club drug users to be remarkably undeterred by this chemical lottery—even given prior knowledge that what they’re taking isn’t MDMA. And if you don’t care what drug you take, then all the educational campaigns in the world won’t save your heedless butt.

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Two N.J. pilot programs to ease reentry for nonviolent drug offenders

Gov. Christie said Monday that he wants to divert nonviolent drug offenders from prison and into rehabilitative programs, a move expected to save money and help lower the recidivism rate.

During a visit to Camden, the governor signed an executive order to expand the state’s drug-court program and to create a task force to centralize the state’s prisoner-reentry efforts and determine what barriers exist for inmates upon release.

The governor also wants to create a recidivism database that tracks the success of reentry programs.

As a former U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, Christie said, he was in a good position to call for prison reform. Nobody, he said, can call him soft on crime.

“I’ve been called a lot of things,” he said. “Soft isn’t one of them.”

Christie made the announcement at the Cathedral Kitchen on Federal Street, a community group that has offered free meals to the poor for more than 30 years.

Since 2008, the organization has run a culinary-arts program for ex-inmates and others who need job skills.

During his tour, Christie navigated the busy kitchen, where five men crowded around a table chopping green peppers and celery for chili that would be served to the nearly 400 people expected to show up for dinner Monday night. Farther down the kitchen assembly line, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sat cooling on white parchment paper.

Christie said his wife, Mary Pat, wanted him to focus on giving former inmates a legitimate second chance. Drug addiction often thwarts a former inmate’s return to society, along with the difficulty in finding employment because of a criminal record.

“We’re missing the boat in terms of how we can help these people turn their lives around,” Christie said as his wife stood by his side.

Christie called for expanding the state’s drug-court program, which has operated in all 21 counties since 2004 and diverts nonviolent drug offenders from jail to treatment programs.

The two pilot programs will allow judges to sentence drug offenders directly to the program, rather than requiring offenders to seek enrollment in the program, said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts.

Christie said he was still working with the judiciary to determine the best location for the two pilot programs.

Graduates of the drug-court program are less likely to return to crime, according to an October 2010 study by the state judiciary.

Only 16 percent of drug-court graduates are rearrested, compared with 54 percent of nonviolent drug offenders who enter the prison system. And only 8 percent of those who go through drug court are convicted of another crime, compared with 43 percent of nonviolent drug offenders who are imprisoned.

The country’s prison population escalated sharply in the 1980s and 1990s when mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders put more nonviolent offenders behind bars.

As prison budgets have grown, state officials have looked to alternative sentencing to ease the burden. It costs about $39,000 a year to incarcerate a person in New Jersey. It costs $11,300 to put that same person through the drug-court program, which includes frequent drug testing and intensive supervision.

The “War on Drugs” – an effort that began under President Richard M. Nixon to reduce drug sales and use in the United States – was well-intentioned, Christie said. But it isn’t working as officials had hoped.

“Just putting people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses makes no sense for our society in the long haul,” he said.

Christie appointed Lisa Puglisi as his coordinator for prisoner reentry. Puglisi, a lawyer who represented the Department of Corrections and later the state Parole Board, will serve as the governor’s main adviser on prisoner-reentry policy.

Puglisi, with James Plousis, chairman of the Parole Board, will cochair the Task Force for Recidivism Reduction.

The task force will include representatives of various agencies that can help, and sometimes hinder, an ex-convict’s reentry into society.

Obtaining a license or official ID, managing child-support payments, even getting a job in a restaurant where liquor is served can, without the right assistance, be difficult or impossible for an inmate, Plousis said. The task force aims to find the problems and help ex-inmates overcome them.

Although New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, has a recidivism rate of at least 40 percent, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, New Jersey has decreased its rate 11 percent since 1999. It has also reduced its prison population 11 percent to 21,182 inmates since its peak in 1999.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s prison population continues to increase. It’s up 41 percent since 1999, and the state now holds more than 51,000 people.

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Sarawak tribes struggle with modern problems

Alcoholism, drug use, and crime among the indigenous people in Sarawak on the increase and anger is rising over continuing encroachment on native lands.

Tribal chief Danny Ibang lived most of his life in the pristine jungles of the Malaysian portion of Borneo island until he was pushed into a modern world he was told would be better.

And in many ways, it is.

His Kenyah community of 2,000 enjoys electricity, running water, health and educational facilities previously undreamed-of since being moved out of the jungles to a new village to make way for the huge Bakun hydroelectric dam.

But as expanding dams, oil-palm plantations and other development force thousands off ancestral lands in the state of Sarawak, a host of modern new problems threaten to break down once tight-knit tribal communities.

Village elders and activists say alcoholism, drug use, and crime are on the increase and anger is rising over continuing encroachment on native lands.

“There have been a lot of social changes after the Bakun dam,” said Ibang, 66, whose people were among the first moved to the relocation village of Sungai Asap 14 years ago.

“Some teens who go to school learn to rebel against their parents, and boys and girls now mingle freely as they see it on the television,” he said. There were 10 recent teen pregnancies – something unheard-of in the old days.

The state government is pushing to develop the economy of Sarawak, which is blessed by rich natural resources yet remains one of Malaysia’s poorest states.

‘We are really angry’

But critics say the effort, while necessary, is plagued by graft and harms tribes that are ethnically distinct from the nation’s majority Malays.

Tribal lands make up about 80 percent of Sarawak and “nearly all has been taken for logging and plantations”, said Mark Bujang, head of Borneo Resources Institute, a body working in defence of native land rights.

In October, Penan tribespeople blocked roads into their lands for a week to protest logging and alleged river pollution by Malaysian firm Interhill until the blockade was dismantled by authorities.

At a forum on native concerns in the town of Bintulu in October organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, about 150 Iban tribespeople alleged a palm oil company illegally seized their land for a plantation and disturbed ancestral graves, said Joseph Laja, an Iban.

“We are really angry,” Laja told commission members.

“If they move into another part of our land, there could be violence.”

About four million of Malaysia’s 28 million people belong to indigenous tribes, most of which are native to Malaysian Borneo where some retain diminishing traditional rainforest hunting and farming ways.

Officially, they enjoy the same preferential treatment in business, education and other areas accorded to Malays – a controversial policy meant to lift Malay socio-economic standing.

But natives and activists say this has meant little to tribes, who remain among the country’s poorest groups.

As a result, many youths welcome their new life and opportunities in Sungai Asap, which now has 11,600 people from a range of tribes living in traditionally inspired longhouses.

White elephant

Sarawak tribes struggle with modern problems Roads linking the village to coastal cities have, along with modern telecommunications, opened new employment vistas for tribal youths.

“I love living in Sungai Asap,” said Lenny Prescially, 18, as she tapped out messages to friends on Facebook in a local community centre.

Her family moved here from the jungles when she was four and she knows little of the old ways.

“Only the elders want to continue the old lifestyle. They don’t know anything,” she said dismissively of the older men who still hunt wild boar in forests and nearby palm plantations, machetes strapped to their waists.

The Bakun dam has been widely criticised as a white elephant, disastrous for uprooted tribes and pristine jungles that are now inundated by a reservoir the size of Singapore, its projected power output exceeding Sarawak’s needs.

Transparency International has called the dam, which began generating electricity in August, a “monument to graft”.

Much of the anger in Sarawak is directed at Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud – himself from the Melanau tribe – who has governed the state since 1981 and is widely accused of corruption, cronyism, and plundering the state’s resources, which he denies.

But Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing said the state must develop the economy and give youths new opportunities.

“I have to support (the state’s youths). We need to develop Sarawak,” he told AFP.

But there is a palpable sense of rootlessness today for communities whose identity was long linked to ancestral lands passed down through generations.

“When our land is taken away, there is no longer any blood in our body,” said Sungai Asap resident Stem Liau, 48.

Ibang, the Kenyah headman, said his people were promised eight hectares (20 acres) of farmland per family at Sungai Asap but only received a little more than one hectare of poor-quality land.

“Promises have been broken,” said Ibang, who has struggled to grow pepper, cocoa and rubber.

Hasmy Agam, chairman of the rights commission, said it had received nearly 2,000 complaints over native land rights infringement in Malaysia over the past decade. Many of those complaining have threatened violence.

“We sense that. We hope that is not the solution,” Hasmy said.

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Reserveâs River Region Recovery aims for complete transformation of lives

By David Vitrano
Published/Last Modified on Saturday, November 26, 2011 12:57 AM CST


RESERVE – In the past few years, there have been a number of changes at Lifehouse Church, formerly known as Reserve Christian. Besides the obvious name change, the school has been scaled back and the sanctuary has been expanded, to name a few. But in the mean time, one aspect has remained steady. Darren Burlison, the director of River Region Recovery, has quietly been doing his part to make life better for community members who have been overwhelmed for one reason or another.

“I want the community to know we’re here,” said Burlison. “We’re here to stay.”

River Region Recovery’s flagship program is called Celebrate Recovery. It is a faith-based, 12-step recovery program, but it differs from other recovery programs in that its focus is not merely those suffering from physical addicitions.

According to Burlison, Celebrate Recovery deals with what he calls the three H’s — hurts, habits and hangups.

“That’s what sets Celebrate Recovery apart,” said Burlison.

The program meets two nights per week. On Wednesdays, those in the program break off into their separate groups and study the 12 steps.

“Wednesday nights are when we really bring people through,” said Burlison.

Burlison said it typically takes someone eight or nine months to complete the classes, but everyone is allowed to proceed at his or her own pace.

Friday nights, however, may be what truly sets the program apart. That is when the group meets as a whole for fellowship in a relaxed communal atmosphere.

“Friday nights are a real fun atmosphere,” said Burlison. “For newcomers, it really breaks the ice.”

He said these nights are a family affair, and there is food for everyone and special activities for the children. All this is designed to help the individual in the program not feel so alone in the process.

“That’s where they are building that support system. We want to create a fun, safe atmosphere,” said Burlison. “Recovery is not a drag. Recovery can be fun, and it should be exciting.”

Burlison said one of the things he enjoys most as he watched people progress through the program is seeing the transformation, not only in an individual’s quality of life but also in his or her attitude toward the community at large.

Some, he said, even go through the program and then train to become program facilitators.

One of these is Jacob LeBlanc, who Burlison described as his “right hand man.”

“I started using drugs when I was 18 years old,” said LeBlanc.

By age 32, LeBlanc had lost just about everything, his family, his business and, finally, his freedom. He spent nine months behind bars because of his prescription drug addiction.

“When I was in there, I saw so many people fall back in,” said LeBlanc. “That was a fear of mine.”

Determined not to return to prison, LeBlanc said he saw a flyer for the Celebrate Recovery program during his first visit to the church. January 2012 will mark four years of sobriety for LeBlanc. He got his wife back and is now one of the owners of another business, Risk Tree Service. What’s more, he is now an assimilation coach with River Region Recovery.

“It’s like I had a huge hole inside of me,” said LeBlanc. “Now, through helping others, I’m satisfied now.”

Many who go through the program, however, do not suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, such as Barbara Hicks, who three years ago started with Celebrate Recovery to ease some of her control issues.

“I was a real bitter, resentful person and in complete denial about that,” said Hicks. “I’m a very different person than when I came here.”

She said what the program allowed her to do was to get “deep and personal” with herself.

“We’re all there with different problems or issues,” she said, “But you can work it out because you can get real there.”

Besides Celebrate Recovery, River Region Recovery currently offers three other programs.

Heal a Home provides aid to community members who need help with simple household tasks. It is run in conjunction with the St. John Sheriff’s Office’s Cop of Tea program. Alabaster Box is a program that helps the community’s neediest members with clothing and food. And Perfect Pearls is an outreach program for local widows.

“These are the things we are tangibly doing right now,” said Burlison.

He added that River Region Recovery would like to establish some recovery houses in the area in the future.

“That’s our big goal as of right now,” he said. “We’re tired of sending our sons and daughters away.”

But for now, Burlison is content to change people, one individual at a time, and give them a new lease on life.

Said Burlison, “Our goal is to get people cleaned up and get them to a productive point in their lives.”

For more information on River Region Recovery or any of the programs it operates, visit

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Denmark Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

Denmark Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

Copenhagen politicians are pushing for totally legalized, council-sold hashish. National lawmakers may allow it.

It’s one step back, one step forward in Europe. While Holland begins the slow process of rolling back its longstanding liberal approach to marijuana, authorities in Copenhagen, Denmark are pushing for full legalization of hashish. The proposal would see it sold and taxed legally, just like alcohol. The latest volley in the debate came as Copenhagen’s City Council voted last week to investigate ways to decriminalize the drug. “It’s better that the council distributes hashish and not criminals,” says Social Democrat councilor Lars Aslan Andersen. “I hope we get the opportunity to try a new policy because we can’t just continue the current prohibition strategy with hash, which is very outdated.” Copenhagen has form for attempting such forward-thinking legislation. A similar proposal received the backing of Copenhagen’s mayor Frank Jensen in 2010, only to fail when it was blocked at a national level. This time around, it’s believed there’s enough parliamentary support to pass a rewrite of Denmark’s existing drug policy—a necessary step in moving ahead with the Copenhagen proposal.

Of course, the idea has its detractors. “We strongly urge Frank Jensen as the country’s former justice minister to stop this crazy proposal,” says Martin Geertsen of the center-right “free-market liberal” Venstre party. “We don’t want to make it easier to get hold of hash because then more people would use it and be worse off for it,” Minister of Parliament Ole Hækkerup tells the Jyllands Posten newspaper. “If you look at people who use hard drugs, two thirds of them started with hashish.” Then again, nearly all users of hard drugs start with caffeine, yet no-one’s debating the legality of Nescafe. The centrist Radikale party is split: “It’s well known that we have been for and against [decriminalization] within the party,” says Radikale’s Jeppe Mikkelsen, decisively. “Personally I’m not religiously inclined to keep the current model, but we haven’t discussed it yet so we have to look at the proposals and see where we stand.” A special committee will now examine how to proceed with decriminalization, but with such a range of opinions, it seems unlikely that anything will be resolved on a national level anytime soon.

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