ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
PROF. DR. LEGALIZE IT
Forty percent of all German professors of criminal law favor reform of the drug laws
Legal experts usually agree only in rare cases and professors are usually heard from only when presenting scientific monographs. It is therefore all the more surprising when 106 professors of criminal law at German universities together submit a resolution to the members of the Bundestag (German Parliament) – precisely what happened in the fall of 2013. The reason for this agreement and the urgency of a resolution, which was signed by almost 40 per cent of the German Professors of Criminal Law: “The need to review the effectiveness of the Narcotics Act.”
For a long time, several legal experts had regularly expressed in articles or technical papers their opinion that criminal law is not the appropriate way to solve the health and social problems of drug abuse. The fact that they have now joined forces in order to address an urgent appeal to the Parliament as legislator clearly illustrates how destructive and counter-productive the “War On Drugs” has become.
From the introduction to the resolution :
“The undersigned wish to draw the attention of the legislators to the unintended harmful side effects and consequences of the criminalization of certain drugs. They want to encourage the Parliament to take its constitutional mandate in general and the science-based principles of criminal legislation and criminal policy in particular into account through the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry. Both from a scientific perspective as well as based on empirical research results there is an urgent need to review the appropriateness, necessity and normative adequacy of the Criminal Narcotics Code and, where appropriate, to produce suggestions for legal changes from such evaluation. ”
The experts justify their urgent call to reform the drug laws on the one hand with the world’s “failure of the repressive control of drug supply and demand” and on the other with references to the “current excesses of criminalization“:
“The funding of Taliban terrorism in and from Afghanistan according to all findings is derived largely from the black market for heroin and hashish. And thousands of deaths in the current “war of the drug cartels” in Mexico are largely attributable to the cartel battles for exorbitant profits on the black market. The black market generates an extreme and globalized economy with, as a consequence, further crime and destabilizing impact on global financial markets as well as national economies. ”
Another reason for the initiative is provided by the fact that various experiments with the liberalised accessibility or distribution of previously illegal drugs, for example in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal has not led to the feared expansion of consumption. Even the U.S. government under Barack Obama has accepted, in connection with the legalization of cannabis as medicine, the paradigm shift from “war on drugs” to “public health strategies.”
Due to these developments, say the professors, there is a need for a Commission of Inquiry of the Bundestag, as the legislators have the obligation to check if “laws are applicable according to the general principle of proportionality of the Constitution and must respond to significant changes in the social and scientific reality.”
Furthermore, the appeal to the Parliament is justified with five statements :
1. With the prohibition of drugs the state abandons its control over the availability and purity of drugs. The effects of the drugs are not the problem, but rather the repressive drug policy.
2. The intended purpose of prohibition is systematically missed: to prevent the harmful consumption of certain drugs. In fact, all relevant scientific studies show that prohibition cannot achieve this goal.
3. Prohibition is harmful to society: it promotes organized crime and increases the black market. It restricts civil rights and corrupts the rule of law. Massive power concentration in cartels and mafia increases the risk of failure of civil society.
4. Prohibition is disproportionately expensive: the citizens are victims of drug-related crime, every year billions of dollars are spent on law enforcement that could be better spent on prevention and health care.
5. Prohibition is harmful to consumers: they are discriminated against , prosecuted and driven into criminal careers. There is no consumer protection and protection of minors. Risky forms of consumption are promoted and consumers are exposed to dangerous diseases (eg, AIDS, hepatitis C).
The professors conclude: “The state must not harm its citizens by its drug policy. It is therefore necessary to examine the benefits and harms of drug policy in an impartial and scientific manner. As scientists in the field of criminal law we feel particularly responsible for compliance with the theoretical principles of criminal law and the moderation of the state in the use of the last remedy of control of society. ”
For people who deal with drug policy, these statements might not seem like news. Noteworthy, however, is without a doubt the fact that it is no longer – as happened decades ago and still happens today – young students at the universities who demand “Legalize It!”, but on the contrary it is aged and reknown professors. One can only hope that the politicians, the legislative Parliament, take this urgent appeal from legal experts into account and finally become active. Not only in Germany but also in Europe and the world.
From: Mathias Bröckers , journalist and author in Berlin. He wrote , among others, “The rediscovery of the agricultural crop Hemp” (with Jack Herer , 1993) and “The drug lie – why drug prohibition promotes terrorism and harms public health” (2010)
NEWS FROM THE SECRETARIAT
In the first month of 2014, the secretariat will concentrate on administrative tasks and preparations of the campaign around the United Nations meeting in Vienna in March.
We will also participate at a meeting of the ACMEFUER Cannabis Social Club in Fuerteventura, in Spain, on 18 & 19 January.
ENCOD Steering Committee and Secretariat wish you all a very Happy New Year!