Antwerpen, 23 April 2012
Herewith we present you the annual report on the year 2011 of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
Apart from our general campaign activities as the platform of European organisations and citizens who want an end to the war on drugs, Encod is also carrying out specific campaigns, facilitating concrete activism on three fronts: the coordination of cannabis activists in the Netherlands in order to resist the current repressive tendency towards cannabis by the Dutch government, the promotion of the Cannabis Social Club model, among others through the set up of such a club in Belgium, which has been functioning legally since February 2010, and the formation of a European Coca Leaf Social Club that is moving ahead with the process to bring coca leaves from South America to Europe through a fair trade system.
In this report, you will find a summary of the main activities that were carried out in 2011. In the financial report you can see how Encod collected and spent its money.
Encod remains an important source of ideas, initiatives and concrete action proposals for European citizens to speak out and act against the evil system of drug prohibition. There are many signs that these efforts will be succesfull, although there is still a long road ahead of us. Only if enough of our fellow citizens start to realize that the real drug problems are caused by policies, not by the drugs themselves, can we expect a real change to happen.
On behalf of the ENCOD Steering Committee,
1. The organisation
On 1 January 2011, ENCOD had 149 members (organisations and individuals). Throughout the year this number fell to 134 members. At the moment (April 2012) we have 145 members. For a current list of ENCOD members, see annex 1. Of these members, 37 are organisations of consumers of cannabis and/or other drugs, 31 are companies and/or shops, 10 are organisations involved in local drug policy reform work, 7 are media and 7 are organisations working on harm reduction. There are 53 individual Encod members.
The Annual General Assembly of Members (which decides on the general work programme) took place in Prague, Czech Republic, from 24 to 26 June 2011 and was attended by 23 members.
Participants at the Encod General Assembly, Prague, June 2011
The Steering Committee (which supervises the secretariat) was renewed during the GA in Prague, and later during a skype meeting in November 2011.The new SC consists of Fredrick Polak (Netherlands), Janko Belin (Slovenia), Boaz Wachtel (Israel), Hanka Gabrielova (Czech Republic), Enrico Fletzer (Italy), Michalis Theodoropoulos (Greece), Farid Ghehioueche (France), Ingrid Wunn (Germany) and Jan Boyer Vindheim (Norway). Skype meetings are 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 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. 700 articles were published.
2. Lobby and campaign 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.
EU Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies
The Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies held two sessions this year, in April and October. The CSF is meant as 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. However the CSF process remains dominated by the European Commission. While the hope is to make a more democratic process, the danger is that the opposite will be produced: a network of elite specialists who profit, whether financially or in terms of prestige or personal ego, by exaggerating the harms and risks of drugs, and by overvaluing the role of government in their regulation.
Differences of opinion on the strategy that Encod should follow towards the CSF continued inside the Steering Committee and the Secretariat. On the General Assembly the topic was discussed in extension. Finally it was decided to continue in the CSF with a so-called ‘stone in the shoe’ strategy, attending the sessions but maintaining a clearly independent position.
UN Commisson on Narcotic Drugs
From 21 to 25 March 2011 an Encod delegation attended the annual meeting of the UN CND in Vienna. We distributed an announcement of a ‘Farewell to the UN Single Convention’ of 1961 to all delegations, and delivered a 5 minutes speech during the official meeting. On 24 march we organized a symbolical Burning of this Convention outside the UN building on 24 March, and on 25 March, a press conference in Café Landtmann in Vienna.
Symbolic burning of the UN Single Convention in Vienna, March 2011
General campaign activities
The permanent Freedom to Farm campaign (and the promotion of Cannabis Social Clubs in particular) took place through participation in stands at the Hemp Fairs of Barcelona (Spannabis), Madrid (Expocannabis), Vienna (Cultiva) and Prague (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.. Specific actions were taken in favour of prisoners of the drug war such as Chakib El Khayari and Maxim Popov. We visited the Moroccan Embassy to the EU in Brussels. Both (El Khayari and Popov) were released.
The monthly bulletin on European drug policy and the activities of ENCOD was produced in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, Czech and sometimes in Italian, and German.
In 2011, 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
International Harm Reduction Conference, Beirut
Drug Policy Alliance Conference, Los Angeles
Rototom Festival, Benicassim (Spain)
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.
3. Specific campaigns
Society for the Abolition of Cannabis prohibition (VOC, the Netherlands)
The Encod coordinator serves as moderator and spokesperson of a broad platform of Dutch cannabis activists united in the VOC (Vereniging voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod), established in order to organise the resistance against the new policy of the Dutch government in order to end the liberal policies that have been in place since the 70’ies. VOC meetings are held every month. From January to May, the VOC organised 5 Cannabisdebates in order to present a transparent a rational alternative to prohibition: a model for regulation of the cannabis market. From October onwards, VOC is involved in a series of lobby activities towards the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
The VOC also organised the Dutch versión of the Million Marijuana March, Cannabisbevrijdingsdag, in Amsterdam, on 8 May. Some 4.000 people attended the event. Through its combination of specific lobby and public campaign actyivities, VOC has managed to mobilise a considerable part of Dutch cannabis entrepreneurs to support the activist movement.
Cannabis Social Clubs
Throughout 2011, Encod made a consistent effort to promote the Cannabis Social Club model throughout Europe. In Belgium, the CSC Trekt uw Plant organised 4 meetings where approx. 250 cannabis plants were distributed to a total of 130 members, without any disturbance by the legal authorities. The club was mentioned in several press articles, including a cover report of the famous Flemish magazine HUMO.
TUP also received a visit of Slovenian Encod member Janko Belin, who is involved in the set up of a new CSC in Slovenia. This has become possible thanks to a modification of the drug legislation in Slovenia in November.
Plantation of Trekt Uw Plant, one plant per member (September 2011)
On the GA in Prague it was decided to edit a Code of Conduct for European CSC’s in order to ensure that the clubs that are affiliated to Encod respect certain principles. This code was presented in December. In November, the alarming news arrived of the prosecution against Pannagh, the oldest CSC in Basque Country, Spain. We supported Pannagh in countering the direct financial consequences of this legal action. Interestingly, the legal action against Pannagh triggered the Basque Parliament to start working out a regulation model for the cultivation of cannabis for personal use in the region, allowing CSC’s to operate legally. The Encod code of conduct was used as an element in the dialogue between Basque authorities and CSC representatives in the framework of this model.
The CSC model has been used as a basis for discussion on a possible regulation of the cannabis market in Germany, Italy and Greece. The city of Utrecht (Netherlands), nothwithstanding the repressive tendency of the Dutch government, has started an initiative for a Cannabis Social Club that will become concrete in 2012.
Fair trade with coca leaf products
Since the start of its existence, Encod has been carrying out campaigns to promote the depenalisation of the coca leaf and the legal import of the leaf and its traditional derivates in Europe. In 2011, Encod acted against the refusal of 11 EU Member States to accept the proposal of the Bolivian government to amend the UN Single Convention with regards to the coca leaf, by denouncing the governments of these countries for racism. We also organized a festival on the coca culture in the seat of Encod in Antwerpen, which was attended by two ambassadors of Bolivia (in the Netherlands and Belgium). In september, this process led to the establishment of a European cultural association of “Friends of the Coca Leaf”.
The members of this association will in the course of 2012 start to command small quantities of coca leaves for personal consumption, purchased from Andean producers of organic coca leaves for a price that meets the standards of fair trade. And finally, in December, we organized events in Antwerpen and Brussels in relation with the visit of Dionisio Nuñez, representative of the coca growers association of Los Yungas Bolivia. Dionisio was later appointed Vice-minister of Coca Leaf matters in the Bolivian government.
5. Financial report (see Annex 2)
Encods income is basically formed by membership fees. Until August 2011 also sponsoring grants for VOC and Membership fees (as well as payments for plant costs). In August these projects obtained their own sub bank accounts, so the administration of these funds occur separately from the main Encod account. 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..
Each month an accounting report is shared with the Steering Committee members. From 1 January 2012 onwards the income of both VOC and TUP are enough to cover ¾ parts of the costs of salaries and overhead costs of the Encod secretariat. That means more money becomes available for campaign and other 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 2011 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…….
André Fuerst, Laura Albarracín, Martin Barriuso, Max Plenert, Myranda Bruin, Cañamo, Marisa Felicissimo, Hanka Gabrielova, Enrico Fletzer, Christian Fuller, Farid Ghehioueche, Andreas Holy, Christine Kluge, Robert Ververka, Joachim Eul, Alun Buffry, Beatriz Negrety, Joep Oomen, Frantisek Pisarek, Jan Boyer Vindheim, Fredrick Polak, Lesley James, Mark Palmer, Janko Belin, Pedro Quesada, Jason Rice, Jean Michel Rodriguez, Jorge Roque, Martin Steldinger, Michalis Theodoropoulos, Andrea Thurauf, Louis Everaerts, Martin Veltjen, Kris Verdonck, Peter Webster and Ingrid Wunn.