Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Maj Nygaard-Christensen

Danish cannabis policy revisited: Multiple framings of cannabis use in policy discourse

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

This article traces recent developments in Danish cannabis policy, by exploring how “cannabis use” is problematised and governed within different co-existing policy areas.

Recently, many countries have changed their cannabis policy by introducing medical cannabis and/or by moving toward legalisation or decriminalisation. Researchers have thus argued that traditional notions of cannabis as a singular and coherent object, are being replaced by perspectives that highlight the multiple ontological character of cannabis. At the same time, there is growing recognition that drug policy is not a unitary phenomenon, but rather composed by multiple “policy areas”, each defined by particular notions of what constitutes the relevant policy “problem”.

We draw on existing research, government reports, policy papers and media accounts of policy and policing developments.

We demonstrate how Danish cannabis policy is composed of different co-existing framings of cannabis use; as respectively a social problem, a problem of deviance, an organised crime problem, a health- and risk problem and as a medical problem.

While the international trend seems to be that law-and-order approaches are increasingly being replaced by more liberal approaches, Denmark, on an overall level, seems to be moving in the opposite direction: Away from a lenient decriminalisation policy and towards more repressive approaches. We conclude that the prominence of discursive framings of cannabis use as a “problem of deviance” and as “a driver of organised crime”, has been key to this process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Pages (from-to)377-393
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

    Research areas

  • Cannabis, Drug Policy, Discourses, Framing, Denmark

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 216223597