ANNUAL REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES
Antwerpen, 23 April 2010
Herewith we present you the annual report on the year 2009 of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
In 2009, Encod continued to serve as a platform for those citizens in Europe who want an end to the war on drugs. We organised public actions, lobby and information activities in support of an open debate on the impact of current drug policies based on prohibition and the possibility to establish alternative ways to regulate the drugs market.
In this report, you will find a summary of the activities that were carried out in 2009. In the financial report you can see how Encod collected and spent its money in 2009.
Apart from the general Encod activities, we also support various projects of groups that carry out pressure on a national level or on a specific theme. Particularly in the case of the Cannabis Social Club “Trekt Uw Plant” in Belgium , the lobby group for abolition of cannabis prohibition in the Netherlands, VOC, or the establishment of an association of consumers of coca leaves, Encod is playing a crucial role.
The network of citizens and organizations in- and outside Europe who are opposed to current drug policies is gradually developing and increasing in quantity and quality.
Our work in mobilizing and inspiring these people to speak out and act against the prohibition of drugs remains useful. Only if enough of our fellow citizens start to realize that the real drug problem is prohibition, not the drugs themselves, can we expect a real change to happen.
A growing network and list of increasingly diverse activities puts a huge workload on the Encod secretariat. On the 2009 General Assembly, a great deal of time and energy was spent on finding a lasting solution for this dilemma. Working groups were created to delegate Encods work plan towards more, and more active, members. These groups have only been partially successful, so the problem remains.
On a sad note, unfortunately in 2009 we lost two good friends and outstanding activists for just and effective drug policies. Jan van der Tas from the Netherlands (member of the Dutch Drug Policy Foundation and former member of the Encod SC), and Gaspar Fraga from Spain (editor of the cannabis magazine Cañamo) passed away in resp. September and October. We will never forget them.
On behalf of the ENCOD Steering Committee,
ANNUAL REPORT 2009
1. On Encods organisation
On 1 January 2009, ENCOD had 174 members (organisations and individuals). Throughout the year this number fell to 159 members. At the moment (April 2010) we have 164 members. For a current list of ENCOD members, see annex 1. Of these members, 43 are companies and/or shops, 31 are organisations of consumers of cannabis and/or other drugs, 27 are organisations involved in local drug policy reform work, 8 are organisations working on harm reduction and 55 are individual citizens.
Participants at the 2009 General Assembly of Members, Barcelona
The Annual General Assembly of Members (which decides on the general work programme) took place in Barcelona, Spain, on 19, 20 and 21 June 2009 and was attended by 37 members (and 3 observers).
The GA focused primarily on creating a new structure for the organization in order to obtain a decentralization of the workload from the secretariat to the members. A structure was designed including three working groups (on lobby, information and action). In October, thes groups were formed and mailing lists were installed to facilitate the communication and the work in these groups. Unfortunately, the mailing lists are not used very much. In fact only the information working group (dedicated to translating news and bulletins) is working adequately, while the other two working groups show little action.
The Steering Committee (which supervises the secretariat) met three times in 2009: in January in Amsterdam, June in Barcelona and September in Antwerp. The SC was renewed in June. The outgoing SC consisted of Virginia Montañes ( Spain), Marina Impallomeni (Italy, supported by Alberto Sciolari and Alessandra Viazzi), Joep Oomen (Belgium), Fredrick Polak (Netherlands), Jan Ludewig (Germany) and André Fürst (Switzerland). The new SC consists of Fredrick Polak, Marisa Felicissimo (Brazil/Belgium), Jorge Roque (Portugal).and Antonio Escobar (represented by Pedro Quesada, Spain).
The secretariat (which carries out the daily work) is run by a paid coordinator (Joep Oomen) with the help of approx. 10/15 members from around Europe who work on an almost completely voluntary basis, translating and intervening in actions.
The Encod website saw a gradual increase in the number of daily visits from approx. 1000 to 1500 a day. During the year 2009, approx. 700 articles were published (two a day).
A new Encod flyer (based on the statement of Albert Einstein: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) saw light in November 2009.
2. On Encods Activities
1. Lobby activities
At the European Union
In 2009 we followed up on the continuing “dialogue with civil society on drug policy” that the European Commission has initiated in 2007 (the Civil Society Forum).
We participated in the third session of the Civil Society Forum on 3 and 4 March 2009. In the run-up to this meeting we had published our criticism on a new initiative of the European Commission: to install a European Alliance on Drugs. This criticism was taken over by most other members of the CSF, however, the European Commission decided to go on with the initiative regardless of the CSF opinions and presented the ‘European Action on Drugs’ in June 2009. For the organization of the next CSF, it was decided to form a core group of 6 members that would prepare the agenda. Encod participates in this core group.
In September the new Encod Steering Committee requested and obtained a meeting with the Drugs Coordination Unit of the European Commission. On this meeting, we tried to get further clarification on the status of the CSF and the European Action, but this appeared to be difficult. When we published the report of this meeting in October, we immediately started to lobby in the European Parliament for the organization of a public hearing, in order to put regulation of the drug market on the agenda of the EU. This lobby was successful: the hearing was organized in February 2010.
At the United Nations
In March 2009 the United Nations held its High Level Segment meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, with the participation of several heads of State and top officials.
Fredrick Polak (Encod) and Balázs Dénes (HCLU) in front of the UN Centre, Vienna
Encod participated in the picket line demonstration that was organized by HCLU and INPUD thanks to grants of the Open Society Institute.
After this event, an Encod delegation consisting of Fredrick Polak, Adriana Rodriguez, Felix Barra and Beatriz Negrety attended the CND meeting in the UN building in Vienna. During this meeting Fredrick Polak issued our proposal calling for a moratorium in drug policy, until the right lessons could be drawn from the evaluations that had been carried out on the 10 years period since UNGASS 1998 (among others the Reuter Ttrautmann report that was published in March 2009. The delegation organized a well attended press conference at the end of the Vienna meeting.
2. Campaign activities
The spread of the Freedom to Farm campaign (and the promotion of Cannabis Social Clubs) took place through the establishment of stands on the Hemp Fairs in Barcelona (Spannabis), Bern (Cannatrade), Madrid (Expocannabis), Amsterdam (High Times Cannabis Cup) and Vienna (Cultiva). At these fairs, flyers, posters, stickers, T-shirts, badges and money boxes were used to mobilise and engage people for the CSC and general Encod aims.
3. Special projects
Drugs and Advocacy
During the final months of 2008, Encod carried out a research on the participation of organisations representing drug consumers in the political debate. This research was made possible by a grant of the regional government of the Basque country. The research concluded in May 2009 in the publication of a report, available in English, Spanish, French and Basque, as well as a video documentary. The report was sent to all Encod members and several other organizations working on drug policy in Europe. Since then, several libraries of municipalities from Spain, France, Germany and Belgium have requested the report which continues to be a useful tool for drug user organizations and everyone who is involved in the drugs debate. Spanish Encod members organised two follow up meetings of the research on drugs and advocacy, in Murgia and Sevilla.
Cannabis Social Clubs (Trekt Uw Plant Belgium)
Since 2005, Encod is promoting the establishment of Cannabis Social Clubs, organisations of cannabis consumers who organise the cultivation of an amount of cannabis that is sufficient for their personal use in a closed circuit, without any commercial transactions taking place. The concept of the CSC is widely installed in Spain, where several clubs exist. In Belgium, upon the initiative of the Encod secretariat, a Club was founded in 2006, named Trekt uw Plant. The club with approx. 40 members established its first plantation in december 2006, and its second in May 2008. In both cases, authorities confiscated the plants and persecuted the Board members. However, after the first conviction, the members went into appeal and were absolved a first time in June 2008. In January 2009, they were convicted by a local court for incitement to drug use and went into appeal. TUP also organised the Million Marijuana march in Antwerp and a party on 13 June.
Association for the Abolition of Cannabis prohibition (VOC Netherlands)
In 2008 Encod was asked to coordinate the Cannabis Tribunal, a series of debates on the pros and contras of cannabis prohibition in the Netherlands. This event brought together a large group of Dutch cannabis activists who then followed up on this initiative with the creation of a new association, VOC (Vereniging voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod) that developed a range of actions in 2009: Cannabis Liberation Day in Amsterdam, the production of a DVD on the Cannabis tribunal, a lobby towards the Dutch parliament cocnerning the Dutch drug debate and the preparations of a new Cannabis Tribunal and Cannabis Liberation Day planned for May 2010.
Fair trade with coca leaf products
During 2008 we had ongoing conversations on the possibility to organise the legal import of traditional coca leaf products in collaboration with organisations of coca producers in Bolivia. These converstaions led to the signature of an agreement to promote a model for commercialisation of coca products directly from producer to consumer, based on a fair trade scheme.
Eduard Casas, GASS Barcelona and Felix Barra, Bolivia, at the European Parliament
In march 2009 this agreement was officially confirmed with the visit one of the leaders of the Bolivian coca growers, Felix Barra, to Brussels and Vienna. Encod organized a debate in the European Parliament, in collaboration with MEP Giusto Catania, to present this agreement, and arranged for press meetings in Brussels, Amsterdam and Antwerp. In September 2009 we organized the visit of Gabriel Flores Palli, president of the Commission on Coca leaves of the Bolivian Chamber of Deputees, in Amsterdam, Brussels and Frankfurt. In these visits the plans to concretise the agreement were discussed and are currently being followed up.
Human rights actions
In February 2009, we received the sad note of the detention of Chakib El Khayari, president of the Human Rights Association in the Rif Region of Morocco, for speaking out against the corruption of Moroccan authorities in the fight against drugs. We mobilized Encod members and members of the European Parliament to send letters to the Moroccan king in protest to his detention.
In October 2009 we issued similar letters of protest against the killing of a young man in an Italian police station after being arrested for drug possession, against the executions of drug offenders in Malaysia, and against the threatening extradition of Canadian cannabis activist and seed seller Marc Emery to the US.
The monthly bulletin on European drug policy and the activities of ENCOD was produced in English, Spanish, Dutch, French and sometimes in Italian, German and Czech. Most members are also subscribed to the mailing lists: “eurodrug” (in English) or “encod_es” (in Spanish), where news on relevant issues is shared and discussed. In October, three new mailing lists were installed, belonging to each of the three working groups that were installed after the General Assembly: information, lobby and action.
At the same time, discussions on the general mailing lists such as eurodrug list can be quite lively. In October, a debate broke out on the question whether Encod should support the case of Dana Beal, cannabis activist in the US who was busted with 75 kgs of cannabis on a highway in Nebraska. This discussion ended with the decision of the action working group to reserve the term Drug War prisoners only for people who have been arrested for clearly political motives.
In 2009, ENCOD representatives took part in several meetings and conferences, among others:
Forum of Producers of Illicit Plants, Barcelona, Spain
Civil Society Forum on EU Drug Policy, Brussels
International Causus on Drug Policy, Paris, France
Appel du 18 joint, Paris France
CLAT 5 (on Harm Reduction in Latin countries), Porto, Portugal
Paredes de Coura Music Festival, Portugal
Encod stand at the Paredes de Coura Festival, Portugal
Conference on “Bridging the Research Gap in the Field of Illicit Drug Research in the EU”, Brussels
From State control to Self Management: Alternatives to repressive prohibitionist control policy, Frankfurt, Germany
Jornadas de Faudas, Lleida, Spain
Seminar on Harm Reduction, Liege, Belgium
Drugs Policy Alliance Conference, Albuquerque, United States
EGUS Conference Paris
Throughout the year, the ENCOD co-ordinator wrote articles in magazines such as Cañamo (Spain), served as a consultant for students and journalists from various countries working on a thesis on the drugs phenomenon, had interviews with Belgian, Dutch, Spanish, European and US press. Encod president Fredrick Polak appeared on CBS. Encod pages on Facebook and Twitter were installed. And thanks to the Encod network, Estonian filmmaker Tiit Joala was able to make a tour along European drug policy activists. The result will be published in 2010.
5. Financial report (see Annex 2)
The income is formed by membership fees and sponsoring grants for specific projects or revenue proceeding from the sale of merchandising products and paid appearances at conferences and events. Also the funds of Trekt Uw Plant, the Antwerp Cannabis Social Club, and VOC, the Dutch association for abolition of cannabis prohibition, are managed by Encod (as Belgian Dutch banks are refusing to open an account for these associations).
The expenses are formed by salary costs, the overhead costs of the Antwerp office, travel costs in relation to meetings and events and campaign costs..
For more information on the financial report please contact us.
6. Thank you very much.
Finally, it should be mentioned that ENCODs work in 2009 could never have been possible without the support of all members and the active and excellent engagement of the following people. Sorry if we forgot someone…….
Laura Albarracín, Paolo Azkue Mayorga, Felix Barra, Martin Barriuso, Dana Beal, Richard Bichler, Hector Brotons, Myranda Bruin, Cañamo, Eduard Casas, Antonio Escobar, Leonardo Esteve, Marisa Felicissimo, Enrico Fletzer, Christian Fuller, André Fürst, Farid Ghehioueche, Iker Giraldo Cuadrado, William and Jessica Griffiths, Andreas Holy, Christine Kluge, José y Nora de La Maca, Eduardo Lopez Arriero, Jan Ludewig, Virginia Montañes, Beatriz Negrety, Michael Oehlenschlager, Joep Oomen, Ana Pertika, Frantisek Pisarek, Fredrick Polak, Xavier Pretel, Pedro Quesada, Jason Rice, Jean Michel Rodriguez, Jorge Roque, Victor dos Santos, Bas Tielens, Miren Ugarte, Iker Val, Antonio Valenzuela, Enrique Valverde, Darpan van Kuik, Martin Veltjen, Kris Verdonck, Alessandra Viazzi, Arantza Vidal, Peter Webster, Sylvia Weisskopf and Ingrid Wunn