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Country Profile - Denmark

Development of legislation
Controlled substances
Drug use and possession
Trafficking and drug-related crime
Prosecution and practice
Prevention, care and treatment
Money laundering and confiscation
New developments

Development of Legislation

The main Danish law regulating narcotic drugs offences is the Euphoriants Act of 1955, with subsequent amendments. Pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Act, it is a criminal offence to import, export, sell, purchase, supply, receive, manufacture, process or possess euphoriants. In such cases special permission is required. The substances defined as Euphoriants under the Act are contained in 5 lists in an annex to an Executive Order issued pursuant to the Act. The Executive Order is regularly revised.

According to section 3 (1) of the Euphoriants Act, violation of the Act is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years. The Act itself does not distinguish between different types of drugs with regard to the penalties. However, the courts differentiate between types of drugs when imposing a penalty. Therefore, the punishment is more severe when the offence concerns dangerous euphoriants.

Section 191 (1) of the Criminal Code singles out the most serious drugs offences covered by the Euphoriants Act by making it a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years, to transfer drugs in contravention of the Euphoriants legislation to a considerable number of persons, or in return for a large payment, or in any other particularly aggravating circumstances. According to section 191 (2), the same penalties apply with regard to the person who imports, exports, sells, purchases, supplies, receives, manufactures, processes or possesses drugs intended for transfer as mentioned in section 191 (1). The penalty may be increased to 16 years if the offence involves considerable quantities of particularly dangerous drugs.

The Administration of Justice Act provides for a number of investigative and coercive measures to be implemented in connection with investigating drugs offences. These include the regulations on arrest (chapter 69), custody (chapter 70), interception of telecommunication (chapter 71), and search and seizure (chapter 73 and part of 75b).

The Act of 1993 on Measures to Prevent Money Laundering implements the EEC Directive 308/91. The Executive Order of 1993 concerning documentation and the issuing of licences for the manufacture of and trade in precursors, supplements Community Regulations in that field.

It may also be mentioned that a newer law on prohibition against visitors in certain premises was adopted in 2001. The purpose of the law is to combat the phenomenon of cannabis clubs, as described below.

Controlled Substances

The annex to the Executive Order no. 749 of 1 July 2008 on euphoriant substances lists 5 schedules, A, B, C, D and E.  Schedule A includes substances such as: cannabis, heroin, prepared opium, etc. Schedule B includes substances such as: cocaine, MDMA, amphetamines, methadone. Schedule C includes substances such as codeine, while schedule D contains barbiturates and schedule E contains tranquillisers.

Drug use and possession

Drug use is not directly mentioned in law as an offence. According to the Euphoriants Act, "importation, exportation, sale, purchase, delivery, receipt, production, processing and possession"  are defined as criminal offences. Therefore, drug use in itself is not a crime, whereas possession - even of small quantities - for the purpose of own use is an offence.

In the case of a first illegal possession of for instance up to 9.99 grams of hash for own use, an offender will normally be punished with a fine of DKK 2.000 (260 euros). In the case of a subsequent offence the fine will be raised with 50 pct. for the second offence and 100 pct. in subsequent offences. In some cases possession of a larger quantity for own use may result in imprisonment.

Trafficking and drug related crime

Import and export of drugs is punishable both under the Euphoriants Act, and - under the circumstances mentioned above - also under section 191 of the Criminal Code. Possession of drugs for the purpose of distribution other than small quantities of cannabis will usually result in imprisonment.

Whether trafficking of drugs is punished in accordance with the Euphoriants Act or section 191 of the Criminal Code depends on the type and quantity of drugs. With regard to heroin or cocaine, the case is subsumed under section 191 if the quantity is approximately 25 g or more, whereas the corresponding limit for amphetamine is approximately 50 g and for cannabis approximately 10 kg.

The Euphoriants Act was amended in 1996 in order to increase the penalty for professional drug pushers who until then had avoided serious sanctions by carrying very small quantities of drugs at a time. Following the amendment, repeated sales of smaller quantities of a particular harmful drug is considered a significantly aggravating circumstance.

Prosecution and judicial practice

Scenario 1: possession of heroin for personal use (e.g. gross weight of 0,5 g) by an adult offender.

Pursuant to the Euphoriants Act, section 2 (4),"import, export, sale, purchase, delivery, receipt, production, processing and possession" of heroin (and other specified Euphoriants) is prohibited. Pursuant to section 3, the penalty is a fine or imprisonment for up to two years. The punishment in these cases depends on whether the heroin can be assumed to be for own use or if the possession is for the purpose of distribution. In making this assessment, the amount of heroin found will usually serve as guidance. The most frequent sanction in cases where it is solely a matter of possession for own use, is a fine of DKK 3000 (€ 400) and confiscation of the heroin.

Scenario 2: property crime committed by a drug user to finance her/his drug addiction.

Property crimes (e.g. theft) are punishable according to various provisions of the Criminal Code. However, pursuant to section 80 of the Criminal Code, in determining the penalty, account shall be taken of the seriousness of the offence and of information concerning the offender�s character. Pursuant to section 808 (11) of the Administration of Justice Act, in general a personal inquiry should be carried out in cases where a suspended sentence could be imposed. The fact that an offence against property has taken place with a view to finance the use of heroin has no independent influence on the sentence.

Scenario 3: small-scale distribution of drugs by a drug user to finance her/his drug addiction.

Pursuant to section 2 (4) of the Euphoriants Act "importation, exportation, sale, purchase, delivery, receipt, production, processing and possession" of heroin (and other specified Euphoriants) is prohibited. The penalty is a fine or imprisonment for up to two years. In addition, in cases of repeated sale of dangerous drugs, a penalty may be imposed pursuant to section 191 of the Criminal Code with a maximum of ten years imprisonment.

As mentioned above, the Euphoriants Act was amended in 1996 to the effect that the main emphasis is no longer on the total amount of the substance but on the number of deals (or attempted deals). A deal is defined as "sale or possession for the purpose of a single sale of between 0.01 and 0.02 grams of heroin or cocaine". In addition, repeated sales no longer presuppose that the suspect was previously convicted of drug dealing.

The sentences have also been made more severe, and the Foreigners Act has been amended. Pursuant to section 22 (4), a permanently resident alien can be deported if "the alien, pursuant to the Euphoriants Act or sections 191 or 191a of the Criminal Code is punished by an unconditional custodial sentence". In practice, dealing in heroin almost always results in the police instituting criminal proceedings. The courts have taken note of the changed penalties with the following upper and lower limits:

�         1-2 deals, no previous convictions for sale of drug: 10-14 days imprisonment

�         More than 10 deals: a minimum of 3 months of imprisonment.

Foreigners residing in Denmark may also be deported when they have served their sentence.

Prevention, care and treatment

According to section 119 of Consolidated Act no. 95 of 7 February 2008, the National Health Act, the municipalities are responsible for prevention.

According to section 142 of Consolidated Act no. 95 of 7 February 2008, the National Health Act, the municipalities are responsible for medical treatment of drug abuse.

According to section 101 of  Consolidated Act no. 1117 of 26 September 2007 on social services, the municipalities are responsible for social treatment for drug abuse.


Suspended sentences can be given on conditions of trial period, supervision and treatment against drug abuse.  According to section 78 in the act on enforcement of sentences, drug dependent offenders can be allowed to serve their prison-sentence or part of it in a treatment facility outside the prison system  Treatment of drug dependent offenders is based on the main principle that the offenders should be offered the kind of treatment normally offered to drug addicts in society at large. Consequently the treatment institutions in social systems are normally used.

Treatment of drug dependent offenders is however also possible during incarceration. The Prison and Probation Service has contract prison units and drug-free prison units intended for drug abusers who are motivated to stop using drugs and who would like support to this end.  Maintenance programmes with Methadone or similar medicaments are available in prisons and detention houses and disinfectants are supplied.  One closed state prison has two drug treatment units, where therapists from an outside Minnesota treatment institution treat the inmates inside the prison.

The resettlement of drug abusers (and other inmates) is based on "Guidelines for co-operation between the social authorities and the institutions and facilities of the Prison and Probation Service".  The Prison and Probation Service has a contract hostel, primarily meant for resettlement purposes in connection with the contract prison units.


The basis of the control of trade, import, export and transit of precursors is EU Regulation No. (EC) 111/2005 of 22 December 2004 (External EU-trade) and EU Regulation (EC) 273/2004 of 11 February 2004 (internal EU-trade), and finally Commission Regulation No. 1277/2005 of 27 July 2005 which lays down implementing rules for the Council Regulation 11/2005 and 273/2004.

The regulations aim at ensuring control with import, export, transit, manufacturing, receipt, possession and trafficking of certain precursor chemicals which can be used in the illegal production of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

The Danish law No. 326 of 18 May 2005 lays down the basis for national control thus implementing the above-mentioned EU Regulations. It also contains the provisions for control and penal provisions.

Non-compliance with documentation rules as well as with the rules regarding import, export, transiting, possession, manufacture, sales or offering/placing on the market may result in a fine or in imprisonment for up to two years

If a case results in a fine, the National Tax and Customs Administration being the competent authority in all areas of precursors will issue a fine. If a case results in a court case the case will be taken before the court by the judicial authorities.

Money laundering and confiscation

The Act of 1993 on measures to prevent money laundering, implements EEC Directive 308/91 by prescribing certain control mechanisms to be applied by financial institutions, including the identification of clients and reporting of suspicious transactions.

Section 290 of the Criminal Code covers most intentional assistance concerning laundering of financial proceeds of criminal offences, including drug offences.

With regard to investigative and coercive measures in connection with money laundering, section 801 of the Administration of Justice Act provides that seizure may take place inter alia to ensure evidence or to ensure the victim�s claims for compensation or returning of proceeds. Under section 806 of the Administration of Justice Act, the court shall take the decision to seize property. However, if required, the police may seize property on a temporary basis, in which case the matter shall be put to court within 24 hours.

The main provision concerning confiscation of financial proceeds of crime is laid down in section 75 (1) of the Criminal Code, under which the proceeds of any offence or a sum equivalent thereto may be confiscated in part or in full.

In 1997, section 76a of the Criminal Code was introduced, providing that confiscation of property belonging to a person convicted of an offence may take place when the offence is of a nature which may entail a significant gain, and is punishable by imprisonment for 6 years or more. No link between the confiscated property and the particular offence for which the person has been convicted needs to be established. However, confiscation may not take place if the convicted person makes it probable that the property in question has been acquired legally or with legally acquired means.

The reversal of the burden of proof introduced by this provision has in one recent court case resulted in the confiscation of five real estates following a conviction concerning a violation of section 191 of the Criminal Code.

New developments

To provide for more effective measures against the so-called cannabis clubs and other forms of organised crime occurring in certain premises, the Act of 2001 on prohibition of visitors in certain premises, was adopted.

If in certain premises business is being conducted in a way that systematically involves criminal acts, which is capable of causing inconvenience and insecurity for nearby residents, the Act authorises the local chief of police, having warned the person in charge of the premises, to issue a prohibition against visiting those premises or accepting guests there.

The prohibition does not apply to residents at the premises or their nearest relations. Likewise, the prohibition does not apply to persons being accepted or staying in the premises only in order to participate in an assembly that has a political purpose, or which in other ways serves to promote the dissemination of opinions.

On March 31 2004 amendment Act No. 218 of the Criminal Code and the Administration of Justice Act, was adopted. Violation of Section 191 (1) is now punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years instead of the previous 6 years. Section 191 (2) was also amended so that violation now is punishable by imprisonment of up to 16 years instead of the previous 10 years.

On June 9 2004 Act No. 445 of 2004 on an intensified effort in the fight against drugs, was adopted. The Act amended the Euphoriants Act of 1955. The purpose of the Act is to emphasize that possession of and sale of drugs is illegal and has clear penal consequences. Furthermore the purpose is to increase the penalty in cases where drugs are being sold in restaurants and discoteques in order to protect young people against drugs.

According to the new section 3 (1) of the Euphoriants Act, warnings will normally no longer be issued, when a person violates the Act. Before the Act was adopted the police would settle cases involving possession of small quantities of drugs by dismissing the offender with a warning. Warnings will now only be issued in exceptional cases.

According to the new section 3 (2) b it is considered an aggravating circumstance if drugs are sold or given away with a view to be sold in restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, music festivals or at other events where mainly young people participate.

According to the new section 3 a, legal persons such as companies, businesses, societies, associations, etc. can be punished when violating the Euphoriants Act.

Act No. 445 of 2004 entered into force on July 1 2004.

According to Act No. 526 of 6 June 2007 (Higher fines in drug cases) amending section 3 in the Euphoriants Act, the level of fines for possessing narcotics for own use have been increased by 400 pct. compared to the level of fines applied prior to the amendment. The amendment also provides that the fines are raised by 50 pct. in case of a second offence and by 100 pct. for subsequent offences.


The full texts of Danish legislation can be found at "Retsinformation", at www.retsinfo.dk


This profile has been revised in September 2008 by the Danish Ministry of Health and Prevention in cooperation with the Danish Ministry of Justice, The Danish Ministry of Social Welfare and the Danish Ministry of Taxation (Central Customs and Tax Administration).


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Page last updated: Monday, 19 March 2012