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Managing Coexistence: Resident Experiences of the Open Drug Scene and Drug Consumption Rooms in Inner Vesterbro, Copenhagen

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The inner-city area of Inner Vesterbro in Copenhagen, Denmark, houses the largest open drug scene in Scandinavia. Since the 1980s, the area has been a gathering point for people who use, buy, and sell drugs. During the last two decades, urban redevelopments have resulted in marked demographic changes amid concerns about processes of gentrification. The drug scene, however, remains, and the last 7 years have seen the implementation of a new police strategy of “nonenforcement” of minor drug possession offences alongside the opening of two drug consumption rooms (DCRs) in the area. This article presents findings from a study of resident attitudes toward local DCRs and daily experiences of the open drug scene. Specifically, we draw on material generated via an online questionnaire distributed among residents in the area (N = 566) and qualitative interviewing of 33 residents. The article also proposes a change in perspective toward drug scene encounters, one that is not hinged exclusively on a narrow understanding of nuisances understood as negative affective states. This new approach is employed in an analysis of resident experiences of drug scene encounters. The analysis shows that rather than experiencing drug users and the drug scene exclusively as a nuisance or threat to community order, most residents are supportive of DCRs and generally accept the presence of a drug scene in the area. The article concludes with a brief discussion of results and their relation to current debates on urban coexistence, progressive harm reduction initiatives, and public space management.

TidsskriftContemporary Drug Problems
Sider (fra-til)210-230
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2020

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