ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
When politicians do not live up to their responsibility to solve a significant problem for society, citizens must act to show them the way. When confronted with the lies and crimes that are committed in the name of the fight against drugs, words are not enough. If we want this insane experiment in social engineering called drug prohibition to disappear, we had
better get our act together.
The most significant drug-related problems are caused by ruthless repression of the weakest links in the drug chain around the world: peasants, petty traffickers and most drug consumers are criminalised and marginalised, victimized by police and army operations, locked up in prisons and so-called treatment centres. A ’drug-free world’ is still the leading dogma of a global operation that was invented and led by the United States and Western Europe.
The devastating impact of this policy on the lives of millions of individuals and societies as a whole has inspired many to become active in the movement to call for an end to the drug war. They established organisations, set up demonstrations and started to challenge the mainstream thinking on the drug phenomenon.
In the early 1990s associations of drug users and progressive health workers invented the term ‘harm reduction’ to cover a set of measures based on the acceptance of drug use rather than its elimination.
In following years, government and multilateral agencies as well as private funding took over the role of these associations and ‘professionalised’ the efforts, which surely helped to improve the situation of those who were able to benefit directly. However, today, little remains of the original intentions.
Harm reduction has become the drug policy equivalent of bringing a clean plate, knife and fork to the starving people in Africa and then leave saying ‘”sorry, this is all we can do for you”. The “professionals” have succeeded in castrating the original strategy, removing the essence from its message. Slowly but surely, harm reduction has become a standard ingredient of the drug war tool kit, along with other tools that are useful when states and criminals protect each others’ interests, but harm those of the global population.
Where is the harm reduction for peasants in Colombia whose fields are sprayed with chemical herbicides made by Monsanto that not only kill their crops, but also deform their children and cause cancer? Where is the reduction of harm for the thousands of Mexican youngsters who are slaughtered in an endless confrontation between armies fighting for control over a goldmine? Or, in a slightly different context, how is harm reduced for the cannabis consumers in the Netherlands, where the government refuses any experiment with legalising the cultivation of cannabis and will close down the growshops on March 1st?
Ten years ago, a second wave of citizen-led drug policy reform started to flow over Europe. First in Spain, then in Belgium and Slovenia, associations of cannabis consumers started to grow and distribute cannabis for the personal consumption of their members, in a closed, non-profit and transparent circuit. The Cannabis Social Clubs were born, openly challenging the prohibition of cannabis. The first CSC’s were able to convince the authorities that allowing the cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption is a safe way to regulate the cannabis market. However, once they were allowed to operate, private funders stepped in with different perspectives. There are now an estimated 1000 Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain, of which around 10 % are considered to operate in line with the original code of conduct.
Some regional and local authorities in Basque Country and Cataluña have provided regulations for the distribution of cannabis inside the CSC’s, but these do not include cultivation. It is too early to say where the commercialisation of the Spanish Cannabis Social Clubs will lead, but it has surely led to the fragmentation of the activist movement that started it. The latest news is that the Open Society Foundation may possibly finance a campaign for regulation of the clubs. The name of the campaign –Regulación Responsable – is copied and pasted from an earlier experience in Uruguay, where OSF sponsored the media strategy around the proposal of the government to legalise the cannabis market. In Uruguay, as in Spain and the Netherlands, the government now considers specifying a maximum limit of 15% THC for cannabis that can be legally produced in the country.
The Open Society Foundation is basically a tool of multibillionaire George Soros, who made his fortune by speculating on the financial markets and taking mega shares in companies like Monsanto. It seems quite contradictory that a man who was willing to ruin the lives of millions of families in order to build his wealth, now feels concerned about the fate of drug users. Still that is what seems to be the case, in view of OSF’s omnipresent funding of harm reduction, think tanks who keep producing analysis, and campaigns for legalisation in the US, Uruguay and now Europe.
The answer to this enigma may well lie in the fact that yes, it is George Soros and the likes of him who rule the world, who are now convinced that drug prohibition is coming to an end and they had better be close to the table where the declaration of peace will be signed. They do not act on behalf of or for the benefit of Colombian peasants, Mexican youngsters or cannabis home growers. They have a plan, and it is called control over markets (for instance in cannabis genetics for plants that produce less than 15 % THC).
European citizens who fight for real harm reduction must calculate for themselves what our next move in the debate should be. The lesson of the past is that if we are too eager to get support from above, we forget to trust on our common resources, and the initiative will be taken from us.
As long as we agree to a model where adult people do not have the right to grow any plant for personal consumption, in any variety they want and with any percentage of active ingredients that they want, we are agreeing to continue the drug war. To set up a Cannabis Social Club in the original meaning of the word is the best way to stop it.
By Joep Oomen
NEWS FROM THE SECRETARIAT
From 9 to 17 March, a delegation of Encod members will attend the 58th edition of the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in Vienna. This year we will organise two side events to inform the delegates about resp. the impact of criminalisation of drug users and the medicinal values of the cannabis plant.
Due to the confusion that has surged around the use of the term Cannabis Social Club (some people in Spain, Slovenia and Belgium have started to use this term as a façade for commercial initiatives), Encod has decided to set up a website for European Cannabis Social Clubs where the strict rules for the original concept of a CSC are explained. Candidate members of a CSC can see here if their club fulfills the requirements.
In february all Encod members normally have received a request to pay their membership fee. If you have not already done that, please pay this fee in the coming days. This allows the secretariat to make an effective planning for the year 2015.