European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies
Lange Lozanastraat 14 – 2018 Antwerpen – Belgium
Mob. + 32 (0)495 122644
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / encod.org
ANNUAL REPORT 2012
Antwerpen, 10 April 2013
Herewith we present you the annual report on the year 2012 of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.
In this report, you will find a summary of the main activities that were carried out in 2012. In the financial report you can see how Encod collected and spent its money.
Encod is a network of European organisations and individual citizens who wish to speak out and act against the policy of drug prohibition, and believe in a bottom up strategy to change it..
Therefore Encod is active on both fronts: we carry out lobby efforts on meetings on drug policy in the EU and the UN, and we promote direct action through the establishment of Cannabis Social Clubs.
We write letters to governments advocating the human rights of drug users, among other In European prisons, and we support fair trade with organic coca leaves from Bolivia through the association ‘Friends of the Coca Leaf’. We maintain a website with news and analysis on the development of drug policies in Europe & the world, and we play an active role in the coordination of cannabis activists in the Netherlands.
Besides, the Encod secretariat is more and more involved in the day to day administration of the first Cannabis Social Club in Belgium, Trekt Uw Plant.
There are many signs that these efforts are starting to become 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.
This year we lost Christian Fürrer from Switzerland, our webmaster. We will never forget him.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions or comments. On behalf of the ENCOD Steering Committee,
In 2012, Encod had 134 members. Currently (10.04.2013) there are 142 members (see annex 1). These are organisations of consumers of cannabis and/or other drugs (36), companies and/or shops (31), organisations involved in local drug policy reform work (11), media (7), organisations working on harm reduction (6) as well as individual members: 51.
The decision-making body in Encod is the Annual General Assembly of Members. Here the activities of the organization are evaluated and the action plan is approved for the coming period. On 28 February 2012, an Extraordinary General Assembly took place through Skype, in order to approve a modification of the statutes, in order to allow for Encod to start a legal procedure against the Dutch State, in relation with the introduction of the ‘weedpass’ (a measure aimed to exclude non-residents from entering coffeeshops – see below).
From 22 to 24 June, the Annual General Assembly took place in Antwerpen, attended by 35 members. On this GA, the action plan for 2012 – 2013 was approved.
Participants at the Encod General Assembly, Antwerpen, June 2012
Responsible for Encods action plan and the supervision of the secretariat is the Steering Committee. The SC consists of Boaz Wachtel (Israel), Enrico Fletzer (Italy), Farid Ghehioueche (France), Fredrick Polak (Netherlands), Hanka Gabrielova (Czech Republic), Janko Belin (Slovenia), Joep Oomen (Belgium) and Michalis Theodoropoulos (Greece). The SC held regular meetings through skype.
The secretariat (which carries out the daily activities) is run by the coordinator (Joep Oomen) with the help of approx. 10 voluntaries from around Europe who mostly translate articles for the website and support the organization of public events.
EU Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies
The Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies was created in 2007 after years of lobbying to enable a direct form of dialogue on drug policy between citizens and authorities inside the EU. However the organization of the CSF remains heavily dominated by the European Commission, without any transparency in the selection of members nor the use of funds. In March 2012, the CSF tried to agree on a common recommendation concerning the EU drug strategy. As most CSF members wished to express a vision on drugs in which their harms and risks as well as the role of government in their regulation are exaggerated, Encod refrained from signing this recommendation.
At the April CSF Session, Encod contributed with the presentation of the Cannabis Social Club model by the Basque Federation of CSC’s EUSFAC. This model is a concrete example of alternative forms of regulation of the drugs market which are not based on prohibition.
Differences of opinion on the strategy that Encod should follow towards the CSF continued inside the Steering Committee. The topic was discussed in extension on the General Assembly. Finally it was agreed to edit a code of conduct for Encod representatives to the CSF, emphasizing the fact that they should insist on the issue of transparency in the organization of the CSF.
Drug Peace demonstration, Vienna, March 2011
UN Commisson on Narcotic Drugs
From 10 to 16 March 2012 an Encod delegation attended the annual meeting of the UN CND in Vienna. The original plan to organize an ‘International Drug Peace Festival’ on the doorstep of the UN Centre was abandoned. However, a demonstration of a few hundred people took place and during the CND, Encod delegates made some interventions during press conferences and meetings with UN officials. The Encod press conference was attended by speakers from Austria, Czech republic, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
Cannabis Social Clubs
Encod promoted the Cannabis Social Club model throughout Europe. Flyers in English, French, German, Italian and Slovenian were distributed. The results were visible in several countries:
in Slovenia a workshop was organised on how to set up a CSC, with the participation of representatives from Belgium and Spain. This workshop was attended by 20 people, of whom several continue to work on the concept.
Dominique Broc, spokesperson of the French Federation of Cannabis Social Clubs
in France, cannabis activists embraced the concept and initiated the process towards a French federation of CSC’s, which is planned to be established in March 2013. Hundreds of groups throughout the country have confirmed their interest in working according to the CSC concept.
in Italy, several preparations took place to set up one or more Cannabis Social Clubs for medical users only, to be expected in the spring of 2013.
in the Czech republic and Poland, similar initiatives are underway, while in Germany and the UK, people have launched virtual CSC’s on Facebook, in order to promote debate. In Germany, this led to the organisation of a parliamentary hearing on CSCs as a model for legal regulation on cannabis.
Undoubtedly, the CSC movement is largest in Spain, where hundreds of clubs have been set up in the past years. It is also here that the original concept of the CSC’s is under pressure, as some people are using the name Club to disguise an operation which is essentailly run like an enterprise.
This is all due to the fact that no definitive regulation has yet been elaborated, so people are all working in a grey zone. The region which seems to be closest to the approval of such a regulation in parliament is the Basque Country, in Spain. Hopefully, this regulation will be adopted soon and may lead to similar legislative initiatives in other countries.
Friends of the Coca Leaf – Fair trade with coca leaf products
Since September 2011, the Encod secretariat hosts the cultural association of “Friends of the Coca Leaf”. This association has about 100 members from 13 European countries. These are people who through the purchase of small quantities of organically grown coca leaves for their personal consumption wish to present a model for regulation of the market for coca leaves in Europe. Coca leaves have many medicinal properties and can be used as a food supplement, apart from being a fundamental element of Andean culture.
Since May 2012, the association has organized the shipment of (in total more than 100) packages of 150 grammes of coca leaves each to its members. Some of these packages were confiscated by the authorities, but in none of these cases the receiver was prosecuted. The shipments have been stopped by the Bolivian Post Office, but should be renewed from April 2013 onwards. In September, the association organized cultural events in Antwerpen and Brussels in relation with the presentation of new documentaries on the coca leaf, and published a flyer in Spanish, English and French
3. General campaign activities
The Freedom to Farm campaign took place through participation in stands at the Hemp Fairs of Barcelona (Spannabis), Irun (Expo Grow) and Prague (Cannafest).
The number of daily visits to the Encod website remained stable at 1500 a day. During the year, approx. 500 articles were published. The monthly bulletin on European drug policy was produced in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, Czech, Italian, and German.
Encod stand at Spannabis Fair, Barcelona
Encod produced and distributed advocacy letters on the need to increase harm reduction measures in European prisons, for the release of Bozidar Radisic, a Slovenian activist who went into hunger strike to challenge an unjust detention for cannabis and on the fundaments of Freedom to Farm in relation with a conference of pharmaceutical companies on medicinal cannabis in the European Parliament in Strassbourg.
In 2012, 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
Rototom Festival, Benicassim (Spain)
International Cannabis Social Forum (Irun)
Festa della Raccolta, Torino (Italy)
Reunion des Cannabis Social Clubs Français, Paris
Throughout the year, the ENCOD co-ordinator wrote monthly articles in Cañamo (Spain) and responded to hundreds of requests from journalists, individual activists from in- and outside Europe, students and others.
4. National campaign activities
Union for the Abolition of Cannabis prohibition (VOC, the Netherlands)
In 2012, the Encod coordinator served as moderator of the platform of Dutch cannabis activists united in the VOC (Verbond voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod), which meets on a monthly basis. Apart from the regular administrative and fundraising tasks, the VOC activities consisted above all of actions around the partliamentary approval and implementation of the ‘weedpass’ by the Dutch Government on 1 May.
The weedpass restricts the access to coffeeshops to Dutch residents.
With actions in the Dutch parliament, a courtcase against the Dutch State for discrimination and interventions in local councils of cities where the weedpass was introduced (in the three southern provinces of the Netherlands) the VOC was a driving force behind the protest against this measure. By chance, the Dutch government fell in April and new elections brought a new government to power in October. For the moment, the extension of the weedpass to the rest of the country has been cancelled, but the danger of this and other measures to dismantle the coffeeshop model being implemented has not disappeared.
Poster for Cannabis Liberation Day, Amsterdam 17 June 2012
The VOC organised the Dutch versión of the Million Marijuana March, Cannabisbevrijdingsdag, in Amsterdam, on 17 June. Some 6.000 people attended the event. One of the speakers was Chakib El Khayari, a human rights activist from Morocco who promotes the debate on the legalisation of hemp for industrial and medicinal purposes in his country. During the years he served in prison for denouncing the corruption inside Moroccan drug control agencies, Encod lobbied for his release. Since his release in February 2011, Chakib is achieving increasing support among Moroccan political parties for legislative reform on cannabis.
On November 1st, 2012, VOC became an independent organisation. The Encod co-ordinator withdrew as an active consultant, due to the increasing workload.
Trekt Uw Plant – Cannabis Social Club – Belgium
Plantation of Trekt Uw Plant, one plant per member (September 2012)
In Belgium, the CSC Trekt uw Plant – hosted at Encods secretariat – grew from 130 to almost 300 members (divided in 4 regional sections), among others due to the introduction of the weedpass in the southern part of the Netherlands, which meant Belgian residents were not longer allowed in coffeeshops. The club organised 8 events where approx. 500 cannabis plants were distributed to the members, without any disturbance by the legal authorities. The media attention (newspapers, Radio & TV from Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany) for the work of TUP was overwhelmingly positive.
TUP organised the Belgian version of the Million Marijuana March on 5 May in Antwerpen (200 participants), and a political debate on the concept of an Urban Garden (a plantation for CSC members under the supervision of the city government) on 26 september, during the local election campaign in Antwerpen (attended by 50 people).
In 2012, the Encod secretariat was hosted in a squatted monastery in the centre of Antwerpen, where a group of artists and social activists organized an autonomous self help care centre for homeless people, among them drug users. Unknown people committed various acts of sabotage against this building, which finally led to a fire incident on 30 November. The building has now been closed by the owner, and a new, more definitive location has been found for the secretariat.
In the mean time we faced a legal demand from the Dutch newspaper ‘De Volkskrant’ that sued the organization for an amount of 4.500 euros due to the fact that ten (10) articles from this newspaper were placed on the website in the period 2009 – 2011. After a courtcase for the ‘Kantonrechtbank’ in Breda the amount was reduced to 2.500 euro.
On the other hand, due to the increasing contribution of Trekt Uw Plant to the costs of the secretariat, it has been possible to free some of the secretariat’s funds to a new initiative: Encod’s Seeds for Drug Peace Action Fund – meant to support local activist groups with few ressources. The intention is to create a fund of max. 4.000 euro/year to which all Encod members can apply. This way, richer Encod members help to finance the campaign activities of poorer members.
6. Financial report (see Annex 2)
Encods income is basically formed by membership fees. The expenses are formed by salary costs, the overhead costs of the Antwerp office, campaign and travel costs, and the Drug Peace Action Fund.
Each month an accounting report is shared with the Steering Committee members. For more information on the financial report please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Thank you very much……
Finally, it should be mentioned that ENCODs work in 2012 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…….
José Afuera, Laura Albarracín, Pepi Barea, Martin Barriuso, Janko Belin, Jaka Bitenc, Jan Boyer Vindheim, Myranda Bruin, Alun Buffry, Cañamo, Dominique Broc, Michel Degens, Chakib El Khayari, Jason Farrell, Enrico Fletzer, Danny Freeman, Hanka Gabrielova, Farid Ghehioueche, Baylen Greever, Urki Goni, Andreas Holy, Lesley James, Jorge Luis, Maja Kohec, Beatriz Negrety, Joep Oomen, Frantisek Pisarek, Max Plenert, Fredrick Polak, Pedro Quesada, Jason Rice, Jean Michel Rodriguez, Mechtild Schopp, Michalis Theodoropoulos, Andrea Thurauf, Bas Tielens, Julien Ureel, Bruno Valkeneers, Martin Veltjen, Kris Verdonck, Alessandra Viazzi, Boaz Wachtel, Peter Webster and Ingrid Wunn.