Danish couple face 10 years in prison for selling cannabis to cancer patients

A poll in June found 88 per cent of people in Denmark support legalising cannabis for medicinal use

Charlotte England
Thursday 06 October 2016 20:02 BST
A marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, where the drug is legal for medical use
A marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, where the drug is legal for medical use (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Police in Denmark have arrested a man and woman on suspicion of providing cannabis to cancer patients and people with other serious illnesses.

The couple, who were detained on Tuesday, could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison.

Claus ‘Moffe’ Nielsen had previously admitted selling cannabis and spoken to Danish media about it. He said he knew he might be arrested one day, but did not care.

Mr Nielsen pleaded guilty to the charge, but his wife, who was arrested with him, denied any involvement in dealing drugs, the couple's lawyer Erbil Kaya told Danish tabloid BT.

Mr Neilsen became convinced of the medical benefits of cannabis when he began taking edible cannabis to treat his osteoarthritis. The drug worked so well for him that he wanted to offer other people the opportunity to try it.

“It should be laboratory technicians, chemists and doctors who do it [sell cannabis for medicinal use] under controlled conditions," he told BT. "I’m no trained expert, but I have some principles and I stand by them."

He said he had clients all over Denmark who suffered from conditions including cancer, sclerosis and fibromyalgia.

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Mr Nielsen and his wife have both been charged under Denmark’s narcotics laws, and face a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison. The couple complained about the fact their trial was not made public, and Mr Nielsen said he wanted people to know what happens in the case.

“The public is aware of this case so there is nothing secret about it and he has spoken out about his business," Mr Kaya said. "There is also a documentary being made about him, so there is nothing to hide as far as he is concerned."

Mr Kaya said that his client sells cannabis to help sick people and to put pressure on the state to change its outlook on medicinal cannabis.

“Claus hasn’t hidden... what he does and he knew it was illegal. That’s why he has admitted his guilt," the lawyer continued. "But he hasn’t done it to make money and be a criminal mastermind. He has done it in broad daylight and been open and honest about it."

Legalising cannabis for medicinal use has been debated intensely in Denmark in recent months. One region of Denmark agreed to a provisional plan in August to begin prescribing cannabis for medicinal use. Danish media also reported in the summer that the health minister Sophie Løhde is considering a four-year-long national trial of legalising medical cannabis.

A poll found in June that 88 per cent of Danes support legalising cannabis for medicinal use. A slim majority are also in favour of legalising cannabis for recreational use, according to other polls.

In 2014, several Danish parties signed a political agreement to ring-fence funding for “research projects on pain relief, including the use of medicinal cannabis”.

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