ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
NR. 53 JULY 2009
BUILDING A MOVEMENT
Is some form of realism finally entering the official debate on drug policy? Last month we noted the open minded statements from both federal and state authorities in the US concerning harm reduction and the medical use of marijuana. In its World Drug Report that was released on 24 June, even the UN Office on Drugs and Crime now openly acknowledges that in Portugal, decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use “appears to lead to the decrease of a number of drug-related problems”.
We should not be easily misled by these kinds of statements though. They may very well be part of a simple survival strategy of civil servants who wish to maintain their job even if an unexpected regime change would take place. We have seen the same kind of double talk far too often among the representatives of the European Commission.
In March 2009, the Commission published an evaluation report->https://encod.org/info/IMG/pdf/Commission.pdf] which concludes that in the last ten years, global drug policies have been completely useless. Three months later it launched a “[European Action on Drugs” designed along the same manipulative and false lines of thinking typical of drug policy officialdom.
It is unlikely that politicians and civil servants will ever be able to solve the drug prohibition dilemma, as they are too much involved in the structures of power that depend on it as a tool to survive. At least in the Western world, the political elite and all those that depend on this elite, from left to right, are interested in maintaining the current classification in society, or at most altering it superficially to give an illusion of progress.
Questioning the drug laws represents a threat to the vested interests of the justice apparatus. Thanks to these laws, police, lawyers, judges and prison personnel are assured of a guaranteed amount of clients, as there will always be enough young, disillusionised and /or marginalised people willing to play a role as intermediary between consumers and producers. Likewise, the developed countries will always be able to justify military presence in the producer countries, and obtain with this presence any objective that may occur in their agenda, declared or not.
Therefore, citizen actions are necessary. As long as the discussion remains in the ivory towers of the institutions, there is nothing to gain. We need to build a movement that repeats a simple and straight message to the public: drug prohibition is not about public health or safety, it is one of the most perverse inventions in the history of human kind. The question is not if it should be ended, the question is how and when.
The Encod General Assembly that was held in Barcelona from 19 to 21 June intended to find at least the beginning of an answer on these questions. We decided to increase our presence both on the internet and on the street, to approach people, organise letter campaigns, publications and flyers that tell the basic messages about drug policies.
We also plan to inform both Members of the European Parliament and national MPs about the main objectives of drug policy reform that could be beneficial for society as a whole. These objectives were described in the Catania report of december 2004, and in the main conclusions of the evaluation report of March 2009 (the Reuter report). We will urge them to demand a modification of the current European Union Action Plan on Drugs, as this plan completely ignores the recommendations mentioned above.
Next year during the annual meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna Encod will again play a prominent role in the call for the freedom to farm any plants that exist in nature and can be used for beneficial purposes. One of these plants, the coca leaf, will remain a symbol of the global nature of this call, and the fact that the founding reality behind prohibition was a blatant racism induced by the fear of the white middle class of losing its control over western society. The implementation of the agreement to commercialise coca products will in the mean time be continued by a separate body.
Furthermore, Encod plans to improve the coordination between the various groups in Europe that organise the Million Marijuana Marches (that take place on 1 and 8 May 2010) and combine it with the promotion of the Cannabis Social Clubs, the only alternative that can replace the illegal cannabis market in the current regime, in those countries where possession of cannabis for personal use is depenalised. This is the case in most European countries.
All this will only be possible with the active participation of as many Encod members as possible. To facilitate this participation a new structure has been approved that should help to avoid overlapping and competition.
Under the leadership of a new Steering Committee consisting of Marisa Felicissimo, Jorge Roque, Antonio Escobar and Fredrick Polak, various working groups will be created that will focus on Encod’s main areas of operation: Action, Information (with sub-area Internet), Lobby and Organisation. For each working group, a mailing list will be created to facilitate the communication between the members who agree to participate in these groups.
Secondly, the Steering Committee will ask Encod members to form “Encod-representations” per country or (language) region that unite the most active members from that region. These representations can also carry out their own activities, and even implement decentralised fundraising strategies, such as the establishment of a second-level membership (10 euro).
The coming summer months will be used to prepare this new structure, which hopefully can be put in place from September onwards. Through the working groups (that unite people per area of interest) and representations (that unite people per language or country) it should be easier to enable the flow of information between the Encod coordination and the members. Hopefully this will also lead to a greater and active involvement of all those who wish and are able to contribute in a positive way to end drug prohibition.
By: Joep Oomen (with the help of Peter Webster)