14 July 2015
Herewith we present you the annual report on the year 2014 of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies.The report contains a summary of the main activities that Encod carried out in 2014. You can also read how Encod collected and spent its money.
Since 1993, Encod is active as a platform of European citizens who wish to speak out and act against the policy of drug prohibition, and support a bottom up strategy to build the critical mass in order to replace prohibition with a more effective, sustainable, rational and just alternative.
We carry out specific actions and lobby efforts aimed at poking up the drug debate in the institutions of the United Nations and the European Union.
We also promote direct action at the level of citizens (for instance through the establishment of Cannabis Social Clubs or other initiatives to propose concrete viable alternatives to current policies).
And we maintain multilingual information sources with news and analysis on the development of drug policies in Europe and the world, inspiring and supporting many people to become involved in drug policy activism in various European countries.
This annual report will be presented for approval at the forthcoming General Assembly of Encod, to be held on September 25 to 27, 2015 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments.
In 2014, Encod had 156 members (see annex 1). Members can be divided in organisations of consumers of cannabis (44) and/or other drugs (4), companies and/or shops (28), organisations involved in local drug policy reform work (16), media (7), organisations working on harm reduction (6) as well as 51 individual members.
From 26 to 28 September 2014, the Annual General Assembly took place in Goricko Art Center, Slovenia, attended by 21 members. On this GA, the annual report on 2013 was approved as well as the action plan for 2014 – 2015. Read the report of the GA
Responsible for the supervision on Encods action plan is the Steering Committee which currently consists of Elina Hanninen (Finland), Enrico Fletzer (Italy), Derrick Bergman (Netherlands), as well as Janko Belin (Slovenia). The SC holds meetings through skype at least twice a month and reports to the Inner Circle group, which consists of a core group of activists representing each country and working group.
For each working area of Encod a working group has been founded which communicates through a mailing list. Every Encod member can inscribe on one of these mailing lists. Issues of general interest are being shared on the eurodrug mailing list in English and the encod_es mailing list in Spanish.
The monthly Encod bulletin on European drug policy is published in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, Czech, Italian, and German.
In June 2014, the Encod secretariat in Antwerp had to move to a new location.
In April, a conflict surged among Spanish Encod members, generated by a difference in interpretation on the Cannabis Social Club concept. Encod tried to mediate by sending two rapporteurs to speak with the involved members and proposed to hold a general assembly of Spanish Encod members. This was refused by one of the involved members who then decided to leave the platform.
– United Nations
From 13 to 21 March 2014, a delegation of Encod Members and invited guests – Derrick Bergman (Netherlands), Dionisio Nuñez (Bolivia), Doug Fine (USA), Enrico Fletzer (Italy), Janko Belin (Slovenia) and Joep Oomen (Belgium) participated in the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs Meeting in Vienna.
The delegation was joined by a great number of activists from Austria, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Spain who helped organise a picketline in front of the UN building, where all delegates were met by two ‘coffeesniffers’ (German handicapped soldiers from the 18th century who were in charge of checking whether people were brewing coffee – as this product had been prohibited by German King Frederick the Great). This ridiculised the fact that still governments of the world apply the same prohibitionist approach to other substances.
Inside, the delegation participated actively in the event. Doug Fine delivered a speech in which current drug policies were described as the root cause of a corrupted system. Meanwhile, a team of TV journalists recorded the event as well as a series of talk show debates with participants at the CND which was put on You Tube the same days of the event. In this way, the world could get a glimpse on what a CND meeting is all about.
The meeting itself left us with mixed feelings. We derive hope from the fact that, there are now countries openly condemning prohibition as the basic answer to drug problems. More than ever, not just governmental but UN officials see the writing on the wall. Instead of insisting on the need to create “a drug free world”, they refer to the need to protect people and societies from the damages of drugs and drug trafficking.
It remains to be seen when and how governments will put these words into action and steadily direct their policy towards legal regulation as the only way to reduce harms and increase public safety. Some observers say that in the UN General Assembly Special Session that will be held in New York in June 2016 changes may be expected.
It is clear to everyone that poorly conceived and counterproductive drug policies have been allowed to continue for so long precisely because in the decision-making process on these policies, a serious debate has been absent. The impact of drug prohibition on public safety, health, human rights and economy is never the object of thorough parliamentary scrutiny, let alone of a sincere dialogue with citizens affected by these policies.
This will be not different at UNGASS 2016. In October 2016, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime launched a so-called ’Civil Society Task Force’, that will count no more than 26 members, to represent the civil society of the world in the process leading to the UNGASS. Of these 26 members, 22 people will represent ’NGO’s’ and the 4 others will be recruited from “affected populations”. Taking a look at the membership of the CSTF, it is clear that the vast majority of them are made up by ‘professional experts’ and not direct representatives of consumers, small scale producers or other populations who have to suffer the daily violence of the war on drugs.
– European Union
During the campaign for the European Parliament elections in May 2014, Encod approached candidates with the request to sign the Manifesto for Safe and Healthy Drug Policies in the EU which included the commitment to support the debate on drug policies in the Parliament once elected. Many suscribed and finally 20 of them were elected. After summer, we started to contact them in order to encourage them to take a first initiative in this regard. This led to a meeting with several MEP’s, but no further progress has been made so far.
– Cannabis Social Clubs
Encod promotes the Cannabis Social Club model throughout Europe. At the General Assembly in Slovenia we reached an agreement about an effort to set up a platform of European CSC’s. This led to the set up of a website for European CSC’s, but this did not attract a lot of clubs to join yet. Apparently, people use the CSC as a brandname to set up local initiatives to gather people around the idea, but most of them do not practice it as a guideline for action.
In Spain the model is developing extremely rapidly. The current number of collectives that declare themselves a CSC is estimated to be between 400 and 800, with half of them based in Catalonia and Basque country. The large majority of them is not affiliated to any federation, and it is unclear if they are following any kind of guiding principles. Especially in Barcelona, many CSC’s seem to operate as a commercially driven operation. The original movement that initiated the CSC model has been dismantled and is now divided among several groups and collectives that have multiple interpretations of the concept.
In The Netherlands, the first CSC was founded in 2014, Tree of Life, in Amsterdam. Although a first reaction of the Prosecutor’s Office was negative, political authorities in Amsterdam have been reluctant so far in acting against the CSC, with around 60 members. Tree of Life encountered some negative responses from coffeeshop owners who are afraid that this model will develop into a threat for the coffeeshops (taking into account what happened in Spain).
In Germany several initiatives were taken to promote the CSC model. A petition campaign was started to convince local authorities to allow for a CSC or coffeeshop as an experiment. Another group (unrelated to Encod) started to claim a campaign to set up CSC’s all around Germany called CSC ist OK. Local authorities of cities as Berlin and Frankfurt appear to be willing to start experiment, but wish to operate with the authorisation of the German government. In November 2014, a conference was organised by the Frankfurt city government to consider the options for cannabis regulation. Encod was invited to comment the CSC model.
In France, Austria, the UK and Italy, activists are considering the idea of starting up a CSC to provoke a debate on the possibility. In France this has led to a first courtcase which ended with a condemnation (though without punishment for the involved activists). In Austria, Italy and the UK groups have presented themselves as CSC’s but are not operational yet.
In Slovenia, one CSC is operating though not legally registered yet.
In Belgium, the CSC Trekt uw Plant – hosted at Encods secretariat – grew from 300 to 450 members (divided in 4 regional sections). During the year 3 of the 4 other Belgian CSC’s were forced to close after a police intervention. The 4th – Mambo Social Club in Hasselt – had been raided in December 2013 and went to court in November 2014. Mambo was condemned but has appealed to the Court of Appeal in Antwerp, whcih will consider the case in November 2015. Mambo counts on an acquittance, just has been the case earlier with Trekt uw Plant.
– General campaign activities
Throughout the year Encod participated in the Hemp Fairs of Irun (Expo Grow), Vienna (Cultiva) and Prague (Cannafest), with speeches, workshops and a stand with information material.
ENCOD representatives took part in several meetings and conferences, among others in Italy (Rome, Genova), Germany (Frankfurt), Netherlands (Cannabisbevrijdingsdag) and Spain (San Canuto, Fuerteventura).
Throughout the year, the ENCOD co-ordinator wrote monthly articles in Cañamo (Spain) and responded to information requests from journalists, researchers at various Universities, individual activists from in- and outside Europe, students and others.
– National campaign activities
The Encod coordinator served as moderator of the monthly meetings of the national platform of Dutch cannabis activists united in the VOC (Verbond voor Opheffing van het Cannabisverbod), which meets on a monthly basis.
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.
Half of the salary costs are covered by Trekt Uw Plant, the Belgian Cannabis Social Club, whereas the coordinator works half time for TUP.
Each month the financial report is sent to the Inner Circle members. For more information on the financial report please contact us at email@example.com.
Thank you very much………
Finally, it should be mentioned that ENCODs work in 2014 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, Bart Behets, Janko Belin, Derrick Bergman, Olivier Bertrand, Myranda Bruin, Bushka Bryndova, Cañamo, Gabriele Castorina, Isabella Controllo, Has Cornelissen, Franco D’Agata, Doug Fine, Enrico Fletzer, Giorgio Gatti, Farid Ghehioueche, Markab Giorgini, Urki Goni, Elina Hanninen, Maja Kohek, Antoniu Llort, Susanne Matern, Dionisio Nuñez, Joep Oomen, Erec Ortmann, Frantisek Pisarek, Pedro Quesada, Richard Rainsford, Kenzi Riboulet, Jean Michel Rodriguez, Alberto Sciolari, Martin Veltjen, Alessandra Viazzi, José María Alonso Viña, Peter Webster, Kid de Winter.