ANNUAL REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN COALITION FOR JUST AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES
11 May 2011
Herewith we present you the annual report on the year 2010 of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
Several changes took place in 2010. While we continued to organize public and lobby events in support of an open debate on drug policies at UN and EU level, the projects on national and thematic level (such as the Cannabis Social Club “Trekt uw Plant” in Belgium and the Society for Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition in the Netherlands) played an increasing role in Encod’s activities.
In the summer, the secretariat was moved into a new office in a squatted monastery right in the centre of Antwerp. We needed to carry out a difficult process of negotiations with local authorities but obtained a definitive approval to stay in the building until January 2014.
In this report, you will find a summary of the main activities that were carried out in 2010. In the financial report you can see how Encod collected and spent its money.
The network of citizens and organizations in- and outside Europe who are opposed to drug prohibition is developing and increasing in quantity and quality. Encods work in mobilizing and inspiring citizens to speak out and act against this evil system remains extremely 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.
On behalf of the ENCOD Steering Committee,
1. The organisation
On 1 January 2010, ENCOD had 159 members (organisations and individuals). Throughout the year this number fell to 149 members. At the moment (April 2011) we have 165 members. For a current list of ENCOD members, see annex 1. Of these members, 37 are companies and/or shops, 34 are organisations of consumers of cannabis and/or other drugs, 14 are organisations involved in local drug policy reform work, 7 are organisations working on harm reduction and 73 are individual citizens.
The Annual General Assembly of Members (which decides on the general work programme) took place in Frankfurt, Germany, from 18 to 20 June 2010 and was attended by 25 members (and 2 observers).
Stand at the Cannafest, Prague (November 2010)
From July 2010 onwards Encod organized a skype meeting for all its members, every first Tuesday of the month, between 4 and 6 PM.
The Steering Committee (which supervises the secretariat) met two times in 2010: in April in Lisbon and June in Frankfurt. The SC consists of Fredrick Polak, Marisa Felicissimo (Brazil/Belgium), Jorge Roque (Portugal).and Antonio Escobar (represented by Pedro Quesada, Spain). Skype meetings were organized on a regular basis.
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, mostly translating articles for the website and supporting the organization of public events.
The number of daily visits to the Encod website stabilized at 1500 a day. During the year, approx. 600 articles were published. On the Encod facebook page more than 2500 fans are registered, 500 people have subscribed to Encods Youtube channel and more than 130 to our Twitter page.
2. The activities
Encod’s activities consist of lobby efforts towards policy makers at both the European Union and the United Nations, as well as public campaign activities aimed at creating awareness among citizens.
Lobby at the European Union
In 2010 we organized two hearings in the European Parliament, both times in cooperation with three MEP’s: Michael Tremopoulos (Greens), Dennis De Jong and Rui Tavares (GUE). On 23 february, 40 civil society representatives and members of the European Commission attended the hearing on the “Report on Global Illicit Drugs Markets 1998 – 2007” that was carried out in 2009 by a team of respected drug researchers chaired by Prof. Peter Reuter of Rand Corporation, USA and Mr. Franz Trautmann of the Trimbos Institute, Netherlands.
It came about after many years in which many civil society organisations had called for an independent evaluation of the impact of worldwide drug prohibition. The report proves the theory of drug prohibition – as a tool to reduce production, distribution and consumption of “controlled” drugs – to be false. This conclusion was confirmed by the Head of the European Commission’s Anti-Drug Unit, Carel Edwards.
Carel Edwards at the Encod hearing in the European Parliament, February 2010
On 8 December, the hearing on “Drug Regulation as a way out of the crisis” brought another 40 people together in the European Parliament. The speakers, among others Richard Cowan (NORML, USA), Marc Josemans (Dutch Coffeeshop Platform LOC) and Martin Barriuso (Federation of Spanish Cannabis Associations, FAC), explained the financial advantages of cannabis regulation. In response, the new Coordinator of the European Commissions Anti-Drugs Unit, Mrs. Dana Spinant, stated that the EU will not block any initiative of EU Member States to start the legal regulation of cannabis and other currently illegal drugs.
Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies
Since 2007, Encod has been a member of the Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies in the European Union, a dialogue platform that was created after years of lobbying to enable a direct form of communication on drug policy between citizens and authorities inside the EU. After several failed efforts to establish this communication in the CSF, a Core group was installed to prepare the CSF sessions with representatives of the European Commission. This Core group met twice, in June and November 2010, and the CSF itself was organized in December 2010. In spite of these meetings, it is still unclear what to expect from the CSF in terms of real impact on the policy-making process inside the EU.
Encod –flyer for picket line against executions of drug offenders in Malaysia
Differences of opinion on the strategy that Encod should follow towards the CSF emerged inside the Steering Committee and the Secretariat. Some feel time has come to abandon the CSF as it cannot be considered a legitimate forum for dialogue, others consider it worthwhile to keep using the CSF as an opportunity to put weight on the discussion. We all feel the decision on this issue should be taken by as many members as possible, so it has been put on the agenda of the 2011 General Assembly.
Lobby at the United Nations
In March 2010 an Encod delegation attended the meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna. For two days in a row we held a picket line demo outside the UN building, urging the delegates of several countries to stop executing drug offenders. Inside the building we interviewed several governmental delegates, confronting them with the results of the Reuter/Trautmann report (see above). A film on this experience was published on the Encod website.
Furthermore, we organized a public event in Vienna to present the Cannabis Social Club proposal as an opportunity for Austrian cannabis consumers, among them for medical purposes. The event was attended by journalists, medical and legal experts and others. At the end of the Vienna meeting, the delegation organized a well attended press conference, which led to reports in several Austrian written and audiovisual media.
The permanent Freedom to Farm campaign (and the promotion of Cannabis Social Clubs in particular) took place through stands at the Hemp Fairs of Madrid (Expocannabis), Vienna (Cultiva) and Prague (Cannabizz and Cannafest). At these fairs, flyers, posters, stickers, T-shirts, badges and money boxes were used to mobilize and engage people for the CSC and general Encod aims. In October, a manual was produced to set up a Cannabis Social Club.
Upon the request of some Encod members, we organized an alert campaign on the executions of drug offenders in Malaysia and other countries. Picket line demos at the Malaysian embassies in London, Paris and Copenhagen took place (joined by similar initiatives by fellow activists in Nepal and the United States), and at the UN building in Vienna.
Trekt Uw Plant presents its first harvest of the year
Specific actions were taken in favour of prisoners of the drug war such as Chakib El Khayari and Marc Emery: letter campaigns were organized to ask for their inmediate release.
3. Special projects
Cannabis Social Clubs (Trekt Uw Plant Belgium)
The Cannabis Social Club idea is not only promoted in theory. In Belgium, the Encod secretariat plays an important role in the set up of Trekt uw Plant, the first official CSC outside Spain. The organisation was prosecuted two times since 2006 and in february 2010, definitively acquitted by the Court of Appeal in Antwerp.
Consequently, the Club started to grow its first collective plantation that produced 27 plants for the same amount of members in 2010.
The success of Trekt uw Plant and the Spanish clubs also inspires others to set up similar initiatives: in Germany the ‘Eastside growers’ pulled of in 2010, and likeminded groups are being formed in Czech Republic.
Encod and Trekt uw Plant organised the Million Marijuana March in Brussels on 8 May 2010, Approx. 150 people atended.
Society for the Abolition of Cannabis prohibition (VOC, the Netherlands)
The Encod coordinator serves as the moderator of a broad platform of Dutch cannabis activists united in the VOC (Vereniging voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod). VOC meetings are held every first Tuesday of the month. In May, the VOC organised the Cannabistribunaal – a place where supporters and opponents of cannabis regulation can present their arguments. These arguments are subsequently screened by an expert in legal philosophy. This year the Tribunaal counted with the presence of Former Prime Minister Dries van Agt, who called on all Dutch politicians to end cannabis prohibition. A DVD was produced about the tribunal, with English subtitles.
The VOC also organised the Dutch versión of the Million Marijuana March, Cannabisbevrijdingsdag, in Amsterdam, on 8 May. And in cooperation with several representatives of the Dutch National Coffeeshop Platform LOC, VOC also elaborated a model for the regulation of cannabis in the Netherlands, which was presented to members of the Dutch parliament in December. This model served as a point of departure for a nation-wide debate on the future of Dutch cannabis policies that took place in the start of 2011.
VOC nails the request for a serious debate on cannabis policies on the backdoor of the Parliament in The Hague
Fair trade with coca leaf products
In June 2010, a new project was initiated called Plan C, with the purpose of obtaining the legal import of traditional derivates of the coca leaf in Europe. Between the end of September and October 2010, during a visit to Bolivia, we met with Bolivian counterparts to explore and determine the necessary steps to obtain a legal export to Europe of coca leaves and their natural derivates that meet the standards mentioned in the agreement that was made during the conference organized by Encod in Brussels in 2009. The follow up of this visit will lead in 2011 to the establishment of a European association of consumers of the coca leaf, which would collectively import legal coca derivates from Bolivia, for the personal consumption of its members
4. Regular activities
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.
Martin Barriuso and Dana Spinant during the hearing in the European Parliament, December 2010
In 2010, ENCOD representatives took part in several meetings and conferences, among others:
Civil Society Forum on EU Drug Policy (plenary and core group meetings), Brussels
UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Vienna
Conference on the Coca leaf, University of Braga, Portugal
Cannabizz and Cannafest, Prague
Conference on “Urban drug policies in a globalised world”, Prague
Open Conference on Psychedelic Research, Amsterdam
High Times Cannabis Cup, Amsterdam
During the Steering Committee meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, SC members met with Dr. Joao Goulao, Head of the Management Board of the EMCDDA, and with Members of Parliament of the Bloque de Esquerda, a left oriented party willing to make drug regulation proposals.
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 and European press.
5. Financial report (see Annex 2)
Encods income is basically formed by membership fees. In 2010, some small sponsoring grants for specific projects were received. The expenses are formed by salary costs, the overhead costs of the Antwerp office, travel costs in relation to General Assembly, Steering Committee meetings and campaign costs..
As in previous years, the Encod bank account hosted the funds of Trekt Uw Plant (TUP), the Antwerp Cannabis Social Club, and Vereniging voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod (VOC), the Dutch society for abolition of cannabis prohibition, whereas resp. Belgian and Dutch banks refuse to open an account for these associations. The income of TUP is formed by memberships and payments for the cultivation costs of cannabis plants. VOC receives support in the form of sponsorships from Dutch cannabis entrepreneurs.
In the monthly accounting reports, which are shared with the Steering Committee, the income and expenses of TUP of VOC are kept separate from those related to Encod. Therewith it is possible to keep track on the state of the account for each of the three entities.
While Encod’s income is basically used for maintaining the secretariat, the income of VOC and TUP is almost entirely used for activities. In 2011 we hope to increase the contribution of both initiatives (TUP and VOC) to the secretariat in order to obtain a better balance between the three entities.
For more information on the financial report please contact us.
6. Thank you very much
Finally, it should be mentioned that ENCODs work in 2010 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, Martin Barriuso, Jo Biermanski, Myranda Bruin, Cañamo, Joachim Eul, Marisa Felicissimo, Enrico Fletzer, Christian Fuller, Steffen Geyer, Farid Ghehioueche, Andreas Holy, Christine Kluge, Beatriz Negrety, Michael Oehlenschlager, Joep Oomen, Frantisek Pisarek, Fredrick Polak, Pedro Quesada, Jason Rice, Jean Michel Rodriguez, Jorge Roque, Martin Steldinger, Michalis Theodoropoulos, Andrea Thurauf, Bas Tielens, , Martin Veltjen, Kris Verdonck, Peter Webster, Hella Walkley, Ingrid Wunn and Georg Würth