Minutes of the 2011 General Assembly
Toulcuv Dur, Prague, Czech Republic- June 24th, 25th and 26th, 2011.
1) Jason Rice / UK /
2)Andrea Thürauf / Hanf – Initiative / Germany /
3) Ingrid Wunn / Hanf – Initiative / Germany /
4) Kris Verdonck / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
5) Martin Veltjen / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
6) Farid Ghehioueche / Cannabis Sans Frontières / France/
7) Joachim Eul / INEIDFO / Germany /
8) Fredrick Polak / SDB / Netherlands /
9) Martín Barriuso / Pannagh and FAC / Spain /
10) Joep Oomen/ ENCOD/ Belgium/
11) Pedro Quesada / Enlace / Spain /
12) Myranda Bruin / Colosseum / Netherlands /
13) Hanka Gabrielova / Legalizace.cz (Czech Republic)
14) Jorge Roque / (Portugal)
15) Louis Everaerts / Trekt Uw Plant (Belgium)
16) Alun Buffry / United Kingdom
17) Lesley James / United Kingdom
18) Mark Palmer / CLEAR (United Kingdom)
19) André Fürst / Chanvre-Info (Switzerland)
20) Janko Belin / Areal (Slovenia)
21) Max Plenert / DHV (Germany)
22) Frantisek Pisarik / Czech Republic
23) Robert Ververka / Legalizace.cz (Czech Republic)
Excused: Willemijn Los (Netherlands), Fabio Cazzola and Joan Senent Josa (Spain), Guillaume Cagnon (France), Bushka Bryndova (Czech Republic), Richard Cowan (US),
1. BUREAUCRATICAL MATTERS
The annual report on 2010 was approved, all Steering Committee members have been relieved from their duties.
The GA demands that the Secretariat looks for a way to make a clear separation between the general Encod account and the accounts for its projects (Plan C, Trekt Uw Plant and VOC), so it is easier to see the true state of the Encod account. The best would be to have separated accounts for all projects.
The work plan of 2010 – 2011 was evaluated: while there is progress in the Cannabis Social Clubs and coca campaigns, there is hardly anything to mention on the lobby front at the UN and EU.
2. OVERVIEW ON DRUG POLICY SITUATION IN EACH COUNTRY
In the 1990s harm reduction came to the country with the foundation of the organisation Stigma. The founder afterwards had to leave the country due to manipulations by harm reductionist organisations and politicians. These manipulations continue, but still user organisations like Areal and Konopia.org continue to exist. A new law proposal is proposed for July 2011, this will probably lead to more repressive policies. Drug user organisations are getting better organised and co-operate with other excluded groups.
The UK government has entered a new phase of reefer madness (except for the medicinal products sold by GW Pharmaceuticals and others). Individual Encod members are working to build public platforms against prohibition on Facebook, LCA has been transferred into a political party, the new leader wants to stand for MP, letters are being written to MPs, and to the press when negative stereotypes occur.
Since 10 years harm reduction is in progress. But its has come to a standstill: criminalisation tendency is growing. The government’s drug adviser works very slowly. Concerning medical cannabis: only Sativex is available legally, the Federal agency blocks any permission , people have to go to court to obtain their right to grow their medicine. An opinion survey showed 60 % of Germans are in favour of legalisation of cannabis. The majority thinks alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis. The DHV petition was a success, more than 20.000 signatures most of all thanks to Facebook. Traditional media are disappointing. Marion Caspers-Merck, the former drug czar appeared in the Global Commission, which is strange as she has always been a hardliner.
After referenda in 2008, medicinal use of cannabis is possible, and possession is decriminalized, the legal amount of THC is 10%. From July 2011 a new law comes into being, cantons , and big cities have been demanding experiments with legalisation. Bernard Rappaz has been more heavily punished then others because he was involved in criminal activities before.
New government has announced more repression, proposing a weedpass that would give access to coffeeshops only for Dutch residents, putting high level THC on a hard drug list. After summer the debate in the Dutch Parliament will start, activists are preparing lobby activities, we are facing contradictive reports coming from researchers.
Cannabis Social Club Trekt Uw Plant has won two courtcases, is now growing for approx. 100 members, and more members are coming every day as a result of good publicity.
A new regualtion came into being in january 2010. 5 gram cannabis is considered a users’ quantity, and is depenalised; at the same time a list of 33 new illegal drugs was added. Last year, two fairs were organised in Prague, both attracting many people. Legalizace is a leading group with an Internet site and a magazine. They carry out ‘seed for senior’ campaigns, in which they give seeds to older people so they can take the responsibility to grow it. There is a petition going on to obtain the legalisation of 5 plants.
Elections brought a new right wing government, now again the lobby is directed at convincing the government to improve drug policies.
The current government is just waiting until the elections, in which they will probably be defeated by the conservative party. No further progress on harm reduction, heroin distribution is only in experimental phase. Meanwhile the Cannabis Social Clubs are growing rapidly, thanks to some good publicity reports. Unfortunately not all respect the closed circuit, and are steered by the wish to make profit. Some clubs are façades of private initiatives. This could be a danger to the CSC concept. In Basque country a lobby is going on to prepare a regulation model that would determine the margins for CSC’s.
Plans to open safe injection rooms. Cannabis activism is growing, thanks to a positive TV report in January including the situation in Portugal. A Parliament member of the Socialist Party has organised many hearings on cannabis and is now proposing legalisation for medicinal use.
3. CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUBS
The situation of Spain and Belgium is particular. In few other countries, activists are speaking about setting up a CSC but noone dares to do so. But also the Spanish and Belgian clubs operate in a grey zone. There is no clear legal regulation, and citizens are making their own procedures, without any insurance that they are protected against legal interventions, or actions from gangsters. Also the development in Spain, where fake clubs are being set up, shows the need for a code of conduct.
We decide to set up a working group that will try to elaborate a European code of conduct for Cannabis Social Clubs, with the aim of elaborating a label that current and future CSC’s could obtain, and which would guarantee that the CSC would be tied to the code of conduct. Thus, current and future Cannabis Social Clubs can convince local and national public opinion as well as authorities who may be skeptical about the CSC proposal at first sight.
This working group consists of Martin (Spain), Myranda (Netherlands), Andre (Switzerland), Hanka (Czech Republic), Ingrid (Germany) Louis, Martin V., Kris and Joep (Belgium), as well as the remaining members of the Steering Committee. Before 1st of October 2011, a first progress report should be published.
4. ACTIVITIES AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Public actions in Vienna are difficult to organise without a steady group of people in Vienna working for it. HCLU has more resources to organise this, we will wait for their initiatives and support them. Inside actions are limited, we do not have the resources to organise events or stands inside the UN. We can always send 4 people inside, together with a camaraman, to film an unconventional performance inside the building. A working group will be formed that will prepare such an action for the CND meeting in Vienna in 2012. This working group is formed by Jorge (Portugal), Janko (Slovenia), Farid (France), Mark (UK), Pedro (Spain), Ingrid (Germany), Kris and Joep (Belgium) as well as the remaining members of the Steering Committee.
For this action we will create a specific page on the encod.org site, so people will be able to subscribe to obtain all new articles on this issue.
Frantisek can continue to represent us at the regular Vienna NGO Committee meetings, but not necessarily to the meeting of this Committee in March during the CND.
5. ACTIVITIES AT THE EUROPEAN UNION
The question whether or not, and under which conditions we should stay in the EU Civil Society Forum, raised an intense debate. Most people shared the conclusion of Fredrick Polak that we should stay in the CSF, however, many participants appeared to share also the arguments of Joep Oomen who maintained that the CSF has been set up as a fake dialogue, due to the lack of the most crucial characteristics of a dialogue: transparency, democracy and effectiveness.
Several people said we should use our presence in the CSF to stop it from making the situation worse, that we would become weaker if we would leave the CSF, that there would not be an alternative to bringing the voice of the grassroots to Brussels.
We decided to develop a strategy for the CSF that could be called ‘Stone in the Shoe’: together with Fredricks diplomatic approach in trying to get drug regulation on the agenda of the European Union, we will also also highlight the shortcomings of the CSF and continue to pose difficult questions to the EC and the other members: it should be transparent what the money is used for that has been allocated to the dialogue, the approach should be more result oriented, and there should be more transparency around the selection of participants, the way these organisations are formed and steered, how they are financed and who they really represent.
The Steering Committee will appoint the second person who will accompany Fredrick to the CSF.
Each participation to the CSF should be fully reported to the SC and the eurodrug lists.
Another activity at the EU level is the organisation of hearings in the European Parliament. We are planning one on the coca leaf in the second half of this year, we can link it to the draft EU Drug Strategy that will be published in september, proposing this strategy should include the opening of a legal market for coca leaves and products in Europe as a gesture to Bolivia. This has been asked in a resolution of the European parliament in March 2008. In order to spread the effort and to illustrate that our ideas can root in any European country, members can examine if their local European Member of Parliament is willing to host the ENCOD hearing, as not to overburden the Greek Greens.
6. OTHER ACTIVITIES
The Drug War Prisoner Campaign should be revitalised. Of the people who are on the list of DWP’s now we do not know anything about the fate of Maxim Popov. Jason Rice will try to find out.
Farid proposes to work together with the people who have created the http://cilippgad.free.fr page for drug war prisoners worldwide.
The action group (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be renewed in the coming weeks, with the objective of setting up a clear and workable campaign on drug war prisoners that people can support easily.
We will continue to ensure we are present on all hempfairs, with merchandising material (give aways) that can be installed on a small stand within the stand of a befriended company. Jason will make the agenda of all hempfairs and work with the secretariat to enable our presence there.
Some other action ideas were suggested:
1. A symbolic event in 2012: hundred years after the The Hague Convention.
2. Actions to national governments asking them to withdraw from the UN Convention, just as Bolivia has done.
3. Democratize the INCB!
1,2,3: Farid will work out a concrete proposal
4. Create ways in which people can easily support Encod or participate in its actions: the Encod Action Supporters Team or something like it. Jorge will work out a concrete proposal
5. Create ways in which people can subscribe to articles at the encod.org website concerning special issues: Vienna 2012, CSC’s etc. Andre will work out a concrete proposal
6. Explore possibilities of techniques and pratices to support DU population in order of obtain significant progress, and to empower marginal groups. Janko will work out a concrete proposal
7. A proposal to reschedule the UN Conventions, allowing for some substances to be used legally Alun will work out a concrete proposal
Quick brainstorm on personal initiatives that can benefit from the ENCOD network
* as the succes in Portugal partly seems to be due to the support of psychiatrical experts that agreed that decriminilisation would be ok, a (European) conference on psychiatry and alternative approaches to drug use might be a way to gain expert support in the face of skeptics. (Jorge)
* in Poland the legalisation movement has had quite some succes and broad support. We should somehow get involved and seek contact with what is going on. (Farid)
* in England some initiatives are being concocted to legally challenge the discrimination of cannabis as medicine when travelling abroad. Also the acceptance and distribution of sativex as a medicine could open a discussion on the official position of cannabis having no medicinal value whatsoever. (Alun)
* as we already have a European cocaleaf social club, the idea of a European cannabis social club deserves some consideration (in conjunction with the csc-quality label). (Martin V)
7. STEERING COMMITTEE
Two SC members stepped down: Marisa Felicissimo and Pedro Quesada. They will hand over the administrator status on the Facebook page to Alun Buffry. Pedro will send around the proposal for regulation that was elaborated with Spanish Encod members, for comments. The GA thanked them both for their efforts.
Fredrick Polak and Jorge Roque will continue.
As new Steering Committee members the following people were accepted by the GA:
Hanka Gabrielova of Legalizace, Czech Republic, an organisation fighting for cannabis legalization.
Janko Belin of AREAL TRIBE, Slovenia, a self organisation of drug users for harm reduction.
Louis Everaerts of Belgium, member of Trekt Uw Plant, a cannabis Social Club
Boaz Wachtel of Israel, harm reduction worker and activist for legalization.
Mid september: Civil Society Forum, Brussels. Steering Committee coordinates
5-7 October: European Harm Reduction Conference in Marseille, France: Fredrick Polak will attend
26 October: Cannabis regulation Forum in San Sebastian, Spain: Martin Barriuso will attend
28 – 30 October: Cultiva Vienna: Joep, Hanka, Frantisek, Farid, will attend
5-7 November: DPA Conference in Los Angeles: some people try to obtain a scholarship
End of November: Cannabis Cup, Amsterdam: Jason and Joep will attend.
22 to 24 June 2012: Encod General Assembly in Antwerpen, Belgium
June / July 2013: Encod General Assembly in La Paz, Bolivia (everybody who wants to participate should start to save money, the travel costs of each participant will be between 500 and 1000 euro, we will need to make a first reservation in January 2013.