From civil disobedience to drug users’ well-being: grass-roots activity and the establishment of drug consumption rooms in Denmark

Simon Kratholm Ankjærgaard (Journalist and Vice-Chair of Illegal Magazine Association, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Ivan Christensen (Manager, Mændenes Hjem (The Men’s Home), Copenhagen, Denmark)
Peter Preben Ege (Former Director of Public Health, Copenhagen City Council, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Nanna W. Gotfredsen (Manager, Gadejuristen (Street Lawyers), Copenhagen, Denmark)
Jørgen Kjær (Chair, BrugerForeningen (The Danish Drug Users Union), Copenhagen, Denmark)
Michael Lodberg Olsen (Social Entrepreneur, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Kaj Lykke Majlund (Retired Deputy Police Commissioner, Copenhagen Police, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Publication date: 7 September 2015



The purpose of this paper is to provide contextual information around the grass-roots activities which resulted in legislation allowing the opening of drug consumption rooms in Denmark. This background has not been included in, e.g. the annual Danish Focal Point reports to the EMCDDA.


An account by some of those involved on the grass-roots and political activities which resulted in the enabling changes in law and the provision of building-based drug consumption rooms in Denmark.


The actions described originated in a concern for the health and well-being of drug users. That grass-roots action can act as a catalyst for political changes in social policy to take account of the situations and needs of socially marginalised groups.

Research limitations/implications

The paper describes the sequence of grass-roots actions from the point of view of those involved. It does not seek to represent the views of those opposed to the activists’ aims.

Practical implications

The use of international evidence to support policy and legal changes in one nation, Denmark, in order to improve conditions for drug users. The need for funding commitments to support and realise the legal and policy changes.

Social implications

The success of long-term campaigning on behalf of a specific marginalised and socially excluded group of citizens and the countering of myths and stigma associated with this group.


This is a unique account told by those directly involved of the social and campaigning processes which led to a change in the law and a shifting of popular and political opinion and action.



Ankjærgaard, S., Christensen, I., Ege, P., Gotfredsen, N., Kjær, J., Olsen, M. and Majlund, K. (2015), "From civil disobedience to drug users’ well-being: grass-roots activity and the establishment of drug consumption rooms in Denmark", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 141-148.

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