Minutes of the 2010 General Assembly
IVI, Frankfurt, Germany – June 18th, 19th and 20nd, 2010.
1) Jason Rice / UK /
2) Hella Walkley / Hanf-Initiative / Germany /
3) Andrea Thürauf / Hanf – Initiative / Germany /
4) Ingrid Wunn / Hanf – Initiative / Germany /
5) Michael Oehlenschlager / Hanf – Initiative / Germany /
6) Kris Verdonck / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
7) Martin Veltjen / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
8) Bas Tielens / Belgium /
9) Farid Ghehioueche / Cannabis Sans Frontières / France/
10) Joachim Eul / INEIDFO / Germany /
11) Fredrick Polak / SDB / Netherlands /
12) Martín Barriuso / Pannagh and FAC / Spain /
13) Christine Kluge / Akzept / Germany /
14) Willemijn Los / MDHG/ Netherlands /
15) Martin Steldinger / Hanfparade / Germany /
16) Jo Biermanski / Germany /
17) Joep Oomen/ ENCOD/ Belgium/
18) Georg Wurth / DHV / Germany /
19) Enrico Fletzer / Radio K / Italy/
20) Jean-Michel Rodriguez / France /
21) Pedro Quesada / Enlace / Spain /
22) Marisa Felicissimo / Belgium /
23) Myranda Bruin / Colosseum / Netherlands /
24) Kathrine / Alice Project / Germany /
25) Steffen Geyer / VfD / Germany
Excused: Legalizace (Czech Republic), Jorge Roque (Portugal), Danish Drug Users Union (Denmark)
Observers: Sokratis Zacharapoulos (Germany), Marc Blainey (Canada)
1. BUREAUCRATICAL MATTERS
The annual report on 2009 was approved, all Steering Committee members have been relieved from their duties.
Achievements SC members
Steering Committee members Fredrick Polak, Marisa Felicissimo and Pedro Quesada presented their experiences and achievements in the past year(Jorge Roque had sent a written presentation).
Fredrick Polak was mostly involved in lobby activities at UN and EU level. At the UN he networked with other organisations, and built contacts to governments. In general it is a very complex environment, difficult to get our message across. In the EU he participated in the core group meeting for the Civil Society Forum (CSF), which was manipulated by the Commission.
However we are helped by the data coming in (Reuter Trautmann report) and we can work together with MEPs: see the public hearing of February 2010.
Pedro Quesada contributed mostly by coordinating the Spanish Encod members in the elaboration of a discussion paper on drug regulation. This paper is almost finished, it will then be translated into English and presented to the non-Spanish speakers. He cooperated in the public hearing in February and gave interviews, wrote articles and bulletins.
Marisa Felicissimo said the SC membership was a learning experience. She reminded the visit of the ENCOD SC to Lisbon, Portugal, where we had interesting conversations with Joao Goulao (Head of national drug institute and of EMCDDA) and with MPs from the Bloco de Esquerda, left wing party that is preparing a law proposal for cannabis regulation. She also wrote bulletins.
Jorge Roque contributed with the organisation of an info stand in a music festival in the summer of 2009, presented ENCOD in various conferences, wrote bulletins and started preparing a database on journalists.
Discussion on ENCOD structure
The new structure designed in the GA 2009 did not really work. Few people became a member of the working groups that were created and in 2 of them (lobby and action) things did not really come off the ground. The information working group is working fine. Sometimes this is because no concrete requests for support were made, other times the proposals are already elaborated and do not need any comment.
The character of our network and the issue we deal with is horizontal and volatile, it means that we may have best results when we do not make too much top down structure but allow people to collaborate when they want and on the issues they are interested in.
Decisions: We keep using the general mailing lists (eurodrug and encod_es) as the basic forum for information on all activities. If on a specific action a lot of communication is needed, we can use the working group lists.
Some members (Marisa, Kris, Martin S. and Steffen) will look at improving the interaction between the facebook pages and the encod site. Marisa and Steffen will also prepare a survey with concrete questions to ENCOD members so they can present themselves on the encod website.
Steffen and Joep will create a channel on skype (see www.skype.com on how to download this free programme) where only encod members can be allowed so they can communicate quickly with the secretariat and with other encod members by voice or chat. On this channel we will also organise meetings, with up to 120 people at one time, every first tuesday of the month between 4 y 6 pm.
ENCOD needs more funds in order to cover the expenses, the membership fees are just enough to survive and the situation continues being unstable. There are different possibilities: find a partner to make an application to the EU Budgetline for Drug Prevention & Information, (so the partner can do the largest part of the technical job – as this needs to be done by a professional fundraiser). Find partners in the US to work with us on specific projects, make concert or other events that gather people, and/or to start selling products through a webshop (not recommendable as this requires a totally different structure for the organisation).
Also, it is always good to make active efforts to increase the membership contribution from existing members (those who can afford) and find more members. Everybody can help with this. This means also going to the hemp fairs, visiting shops and companies and spreading the link to the membership form to convince people to become a member (anonymously if they want). Jason knows a designer and will ask to make some advertisements..
Decision: We will organise an autumn fundraising action among the members: we will ask for a second membership fee from those members who can afford it, accompanied by a letter on our achievements.
Suspension of members
The situation of suspended members was discussed. All suspensions were confirmed.
2. COUNTRY REPORTS
The meeting continued with a series of presentations on the situation of drug policies in 10 countries.
In 2005 a ministerial decree was introduced that softens the interpretation of the law on cannabis. Normally possession of max 3 grammes or 1 plant is not persecuted. On the basis of this decree, Trekt Uw Plant has installed a collective plantation consisting of 1 plant per member. In February 2010 they were acquitted for the second time, which means that this concept can now be implemented. In Liege there is a trial with heroin prescription going on. The political situation in Belgium is quite unstable, there is talk about cuttings in public expenditure to health programmes.
In Sarkozyland things have not become easier in the past year (possession of any quantity of any drug can get you up to almost 4.000 euro fine). But there are some signs of hope: a Green party lord mayor in a town north of Paris started a media debate on the need to reform cannabis laws (article in Le Monde). Some MPs are interested to take this to the election campaign of 2012. Clandestine compassion clubs are growing. There is a proposal to start a safe use room in Paris.
Not much movement. A new drug czar, who does not take any position. However some debate is taking place (last year Akzept organised a debate on legalisation), most demands of CS organisations are related to drug testing, as there are huge problems with adulterated substances (also cannabis). Heroin maintenance programmes are increasing. Harsh laws on “driving under the influence” have pushed people to gather complaints from people affected by this.
Not much change since last year. A new government steps in soon, if this is a left / liberal government it could well be that a regulation experiment will take place with cannabis production for the coffeeshops. Heroin prescription is a regular programme now, not a trial anymore.
Tendency is to criminalise – after reclassification of cannabis from C to B new substances were criminalized: spice, some mushrooms, methadrone (party drug) Release campaign – nice people take drugs – had to redraw its advertisement. Sativex from GW Pharmaceuticals will become legally available. Social and health workers are starting to criticize methadone. Some media debate after professor Nutt was sacked as a governments adviser. Transform is asking for an impact assessment on drug policy. The new Prime Minister David Cameron has not mentioned the issue in his campaign.
No big change in government policy – heroin prescription plans are not really working well yet. The real change is in the growth of Cannabis Social Clubs, probably several hundred in the whole country. Now the next challenge is to obtain a regulation for the clubs.
There is still legal access to personal amount for medicinal use of cannabis, patients can get it from the Dutch company Bedrocan, although there are still differences between regions on the exact regulation. Harm reduction programmes are being persecuted, as well as social centres . Harsh laws on drugs and driving are being installed and implemented, they can take your licence away when caught “under the influence” as a measure to punish consumers. The real hell is in the Italian prisons and police stations, where several people have been killed in the past years after having been taken with few grammes of cannabis. Some modest efforts of family members are starting to surge in order to force the government to take action.
Media discussion in early 2010: had decriminalisation caused more drug related deaths? In the end it was a question of wrong interpretation of statistics, but in the mean time, the perception had been formed. The Portuguese government will not go any further than decriminalisation of possession for own consumption, they are investing in services and treatment. But if other governments make proposals for a next step, they will be open minded. Portuguese ENCOD member Jorge Roque was invited to act as consultant on the national drug institute. Left wing block in the parliament is preparing a new law proposal on cannabis, in a meeting with them the ENCOD SC has promoted the CSC model.
CZECH REPUBLIC (sent in by Robert from Legalizace, Prague)
The renewal of the criminal code was europe-wide presented by media as a legalization of drugs. The image was created of a very drug liberal country, a new Holland, a place full of coffeeshops and legalized possession and cultivation of illicit drugs to a certain extent. It is unfortunately not true. There is no type of legalization of illegal drugs in Czech republic and any unauthorised possession or cultivation of any illicit substances is still illegal and punishable. The only legal thing is consumption.
What actually happened in our country is depenalization. There are different punishments for possession or cultivation of illegal drugs according to the amount of the drug. If the amount of drug is small, the crime is defined as an administrative offence and anybody can be fined up to 15 000 czk (600 euros). If the amount is higher than the crime is defined under the Criminal code. The renewal also made definitions of “small “and “higher than small” amounts, of categories of soft (cannabis and mushrooms) and hard (other) drugs.
For the first time the cultivation of cannabis and mushrooms is also foreseen by the law: clear punishments are set for doing it no matter what amount. So in fact it is really easy for police nowadays in Czech Republic to walk around, catch and fine people for possession of very small amounts. Also, it is actually more difficult to grow cannabis after the new criminal code has been adopted.
1. DRUG POLICY ON THE AGENDA
A workshop took place on the basis of the proposal of 10 points for a new line of reasoning on drug policies.
Observations were made on the first point (on human rights; government should only interfere when harm is being done to someone else). Drug use could be considered as human heritage and move this discussion to the UNESCO. It is a fundamental issue, but perhaps not the strongest to begin with. Stronger might be: prohibition does not work and causes harms
We need to add to the text studies supporting the argument that prohibition was not able to reduce drug use. And also gather and advert best practices not based on prohibition that are being implemented all over Europe.
We need ideas and practical solutions that can lead to regulation. Even if we have evidence we are still confronted with the (lack of) political will due to UN Conventions. It is difficult, but the aim would be to change the UN conventions into more regional initiatives.
For us this is all evident but we have to admit that we failed to convince people of our view. Probably different arguments can be used depending on the person one is addressing to.
Prohibition works for many groups: politicians, lawyers, health services profit from this system. They are working in a hidden agenda. We can change the methods but the original goal would remain still the same.
We should try to break the argument that the opponent is using at the moment. UNODC is using the health argument a lot, but prohibition is actually harming more then curing. Criminal negligence is what UN is doing, they know policies are not working and are aware of collateral damage and still they promote them. Prohibition violates the rights of society as well. Arguments that refer to economics can be used to support that. Also objective arguments would convince a larger part of society and get more sympathizers to the cause.
There are some rules in society and politics that we could try to use in our favour, the Lisbon treaty allows for organising petition/referendum on EU level, we should think about how to use it.
Decision: before 1 september, Fredrick will work out a new draft text (of max. 1500 words) and put it to eurodrug / encod_es lists. We can then propose changes and in the end of September we will finish it – we can then use it as a proposal for the CSF too.
2. CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUBS
A second workshop took place on guidelines for setting up a Cannabis Social Club / promoting the model in general.
CSC’s can only be put up in countries where use of cannabis is decriminalised, where the right to consume is recognised.
There is a 4 step approach.
1. Public presentation of the initiative to grow collectively (if you are allowed to use, you should be allowed to grow for own use). Best contact a lawyer first to seek out the legal possibilities. Try to collaborate with a politician or artist. Make clear that the purpose is to grow for the use of the members. Then when there is no prosecution, you can go to step 2.
2. Creation of an association of consumers growing collectively through a closed circuit. Register it legally. Allow members that are already consumers (after a screening process), or have a recognised medical condition. Start growing!
3. Professionalise the association, take decisions on how to organise production, transport, payments. Production should always be demand oriented. Distribution and consumption can take place in a club room. In order to enable the association to have control over the plants, it is best to have various small scale growing places. There should always be papers with the plants explaining the functioning of the club and references to the legal antecedents.
4. Lobby work in order to obtain a legal regulation for clubs, concerning also licenses, taxes, external control. Make sure production is organical, that there is good variety of plants available, knowledge on different effects available in the association, so the association can provide services on health, legal and other matters.
The Spanish clubs are in phase 4 – and they realise that politicians, legal experts, judges, policemen simply do not know how to start regulating it. This can actually help the process: when there are no antecedents, the proposals from the clubs themselves can become easier accepted.
In all this process, the element of transparency is crucial. Transparency can also make you fragile, but the more transparent the better. It is best to make all payments by bank, use invoices, allow for external control, so any questions that surge on the functioning of the club can be answered.
Decision: before 1 september, Joep will formulate a draft presentation text with 1 short introduction and ¾ pages of explanation – will then be discussed on the lists and finished end of September, so we can start making some propaganda tools for CSCs in different languages.
5. CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES
ON UN LEVEL
1. HCLU from Hungary proposes us to join a campaign they are proposing together with several NGOs such as Transform, Release, Inpud etc. on the 50 year anniversary of the 1961 Convention in 2011. If we can help them to spread the message of the campaign we will do it. If we are asked to cooperate more with it we have to see if it fits in the work programme. We first have to see how they see our collaboration. Fredrick and Marisa will follow this up.
2. We might use our presence in the CND in Vienna in 2011 to implement an alternative approach. Joep will find out more logistical details on this possibility.
3. We can always make advertisements and send them around on the Internet. Suggestions: “50 years is an overdose”, “50 years is more than enough”. Jason has a contact to designer who can make proposals.
ON EU LEVEL
1. Concerning the Civil Society Forum: the Commission wants to organise this years’ CSF in December 2010. The core group meeting of 15 June has not led to clarity about the main issues: agenda, membership criteria and budget of this CSF. There will be a new core group meeting in October.
On the agenda, we have agreed that the scope of the CSF is to formulate 2 or 3 directions for drug policies in Europe. We will try to make a proposal for regulation as one of those directions.
On membership, it would be good if all Encod members that have applied for membership of CSF in 2007 (Faudas – Spain, HPP and SKY – Finland, Forum Droghe and PIC – Italy, HCLU – Hungary, LCA – United Kingdom, Ligne Blanche, CAM – RD and MMC – France, Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation – Netherlands) send a message to the European Commission asking to be included in the next session of the CSF. They can remind to the fact that the Commission has announced that the current membership of the CSF would end after two years (so end of 2009) and new members could be allowed after that. The adress is [Carel.Edwards@ec.europa.eu
On the budget: the process of dialogue with the European Union has not been clear/transparent. We know the Commission has had 1 million euro/year to spend on the process of dialogue since 2007, but have spent less than 100.000 euro on the CSF. We don’t know where the rest of the money has gone.
2. With the collaboration of as many MEPs as possible we will try to organise hearings in the European Parliament where we invite as many organisations as possible, also from outside the drug policy movement, and present concrete models for drug policies aiming at sustainability, health and wellbeing in the entire world.
Decision: We will try to organise an event in December 2010 (theme: drug policy regulation as a way to save the economy / cannabis social clubs as a model for Europe) and another one in February / March 2011 (theme: fair trade with coca leaves and traditional coca leaf products as a model for a globally regulated market). We will try to make these events interactive: people can listen or watch through internet and participate in the discussions.
The last event will be prepared with a research in Bolivia that we will carry out in October (in collaboration with Bolivian parliament). We will also seek the collaboration of an MEP who could play a prominent role in the promotion of this idea. The idea is to use the event to create a separate organisation, a “European Association of Consumers of the Coca Leaf” – which will start to import fair trade coca products. ENCOD will not be involved in any commercial transaction.
ON MEMBER STATE LEVEL
Cannabis Sans Frontières will be launching a petition to put the legalisation of medicinal cannabis use on the political agenda. The Lisbon Treaty allows to organise a EU wide petition: when 1 million signatures are collected, the European Commission should table this proposal and have it discussed by European Parliament. Ask ENCOD for support.
Decision: we can always support by distributing the news. But when we ourselves will implement this proposal we will propose to change the subject of the petition to consumption and production for own consumption for any kind of use, and we will also have to see the organisational side of this: can it be done online, what happens with the received signatures etc..
ACTIVITY CALENDAR 2010/2011
July 16 / 18 Medical Marijuana Expo, Toronto (Jason will go there)
July 21: Day of the Victims of the Drug War
August 5-8: Summer University of Cannabis Sans Frontières, South of France
August 7: Hanfparade, Berlin
September 1: Deadline for draft documents on Regulation and CSC
September 17/19: Cannabizz Prague (Steffen and Georg will go there)
October 1: Deadline for final documents on Regulation and CSC
October 1/3 Expocannabis Madrid
October Core group Meeting CSF (SC will follow up)
October 29/31 Cultiva Vienna (Martin B. will go there)
November 19/21 Cannafest Prague (Joep will go there)
December: EU Civil Society Forum (SC will follow up), ENCOD Hearing in European Parliament (SC will follow up)
February 2011: ENCOD Hearing in EP (SC will follow up)
March 2011: CND Vienna (SC will follow up)
April 30 and May 7 2011: MMM.
June 24 – 26 2011: ENCOD General Assembly (probably in Prague)