Minutes of the 2004 General Assembly of ENCOD
Where: Brugerforeningen Copenhagen Denmark
When: June 25th and 26th, 2004.
1) Dasha Ocheret/New Drug Policy Alliance/Russia/
2) Peter Sarosi/Kendamar/Hungary/
3) Maxim Motytchynkov/ Drugusers.ru//Russia/
4) Gert.Norup/Fri Hash Bevaegelsen/Denmark/
5) Arne Jorgensen/Fri Hash Bevaegelsen/Denmark
6) Joergen Kjaer/Danish Drug Users’ Union/Denmark/
7) Klaus Tuxen Trier/Hampepartiet/Denmark/
8) Thorri Johansson/Iceland/
9) Marie Candius/Swedish Drug Users’ Union./Sweden/
10) Torsten Bodekull/Swedish Drug Users Union/Sweden/
11) Marina Impallomeni/Fuoriluogo/Italy/
12) Fernanda de la Figuera/FAC/Spain/
13) Oscar Corrales/ARSECA/Spain/
14) Farid Ghehioueche/CAM R-D, Ligne Blanche/France/
15) Christine Klüge/AKZEPT/Germany/
16) Kimmo Wilska/HPP/Finland/
17) Bruno Valkeneers/Liaisons Antiprohibitionnistes/Belgium/
18) Kris Verdonck/Belgium/
19) Joep Oomen/ENCOD/Belgium/
21) Ian Harris/Reform/U.K./
22) Virginia Montañes/TNI/Netherlands, Spain/
23) Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt/John Mordaunt Trust/U.K/
24) Joergen Anker / Researcher from Roskilde University/Denmark
Apologies received from Beatriz Acevedo (Colombia/UK), Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation – Fredrick Polak (Netherlands), TRICOMA – Alfonso Lopez Macarro (Spain), CAÑAMO – Gaspar Fraga (Spain), DROLEG – Judith Laws (Switzerland), The Alliance – Eliot Ross Albert (UK), Stijn Goosens and Gerbrand Nootens (Belgium).
The General Assembly was dedicated to our brother Gerard Leblonde Valièrgue, who died 14 June in Paris
1. SNAPSHOT OF EUROPEAN DRUG POLICIES
The meeting began with 5 minutes presentations from each delegate about the state of drug policy in their respective countries:
Virginia M. (who told us she would speak globally rather than simply about Holland) mentioned that the UNODC are for the first time speaking the language of Harm Reduction. It looks like we have all made some kind of positive inroad to their thinking. An outcome of this was criticism for more repressive countries! It is thought that two new members of the INCB are more prohibitionist than their predecessors.
Willemijn, MDHG’s new coordinator, said there is a general rolling back of the liberalisation of drug policies, including a tighter control on coffee shops. That though there has been some expansion of supervised heroin prescribing; the bigger problem amongst addict users is cocaine and/or crack. She said the house-dealers at MDHG were recently kicked out during a raid at the MDHG June 24th. This led to 80 protestors taking to the street. She also reported that the official user rooms had too high a threshold so many users didn’t use them.
Tuxen said that there is fear about public speaking on Christiania and cannabis legislation simultaneously, for though they have things in common, they also have critical differences (unresolved at this point.)
Gert and Arne spoke of their organisation, Fri Hash movement, and of the struggle for ‘legalisation’ of cannabis since the 1970s. Gert thinks we should think in terms of unity re ALL users as the impact we could have would be stronger. He also said there is a contradiction between human rights and harm reduction, as the latter does not solve the main human rights problem: the freedom to use.
Christine reported small changes at local level with cannabis legislation. However NEPs have been cut back in all but one prison, which was enacted by one govt. figure in 2003. Drug workers were not really equipped to deal with the Hep C epidemic amongst IDUs so Akzept organised a conference with all the different stakeholders to address this issue.
Peter reported a recent liberalisation of drug laws, supported by celebrities, and that there will be further discussion of this in Sept this year. A contract between service providers and the police made for less intervention so that harm Reduction work was not interfered with, which means more IDUs can access NEPs So some progress
Kimmo said that a new Law made 2/3 years ago created separate categories of drugs use and crime: personal use is now fines as opposed to leading to prison, BUT home-growing is now classified as manufacturing. One non-drug using MEP has been quoted as an anti-prohibitionist, and a Green MEP’s admission of personal cannabis use drew significant media attention
Maxime said that there is an international group of Russian-speaking drug users linked together by a website, but there have been problems with the danger of thus incriminating oneself (by ‘coming out’ on that site.)
Dasha explained the recent new legislation: people will no longer be punished for less than 20grms of cannabis, One gram of heroin or 1.5 grams of cocaine. Instead they will receive $30 fines. However, she reminded us all that this is a very unstable situation that could change quickly again. She noted that drug policy was changed with a very direct input from civil society and particularly user groups Maxime alluded to. Help also came from a small no. of MPs and Human Rights organisations. She said it is important that other countries publicly support these changes so that they do not turn back for fear of repercussions from global drug warriors.
Kris told of the group dance-a-delic.org, whose events include chill-out rooms and workshops. Bruno reported that it is the Lay-community, who spearhead cannabis legislation change; right to choose. The law is confusing as they say 3g is ok but only if it is used by over 18s and in their own home town and if you are not an addict user, but it is a cop
that decides the latter (i.e. untrained eyes.) Given this, Bruno asks us to consider whether Harm Reduction is
about cushioning prohibition, or smashing it? Methadone is now legal under medical supervision.
Thorri reported that beer was kept illegal till 1989! Doctors had been prescribing opiates to those who needed them for a long time. Nowadays people can get 9 years for use or selling of designer drugs. Hash laws can be harsh particularly when being used against ‘foreigners.’ Secret drug police and secret service work closely together house searches happen without warrants.. So much Ritalin is now being prescribed (for kids) that it is less punitively reacted to.
Marie reported that all illicit use is criminalised; that there are only 1400 people receiving methadone though each patient must give a daily urine sample.. Anybody known to be using alcohol on top of prescribed methadone is kicked off the program. There are 2,000 users members of groups; an unsurprising explosion given the circumstances of their lives. Some can get Subutex in Stockholm, but NEP only exists in the South of the country.
Torsten told that a museum in Lund has been closed down on in early june because they hosted an exhibition which included some industrial hemp plants.
Marina reports that in 2003, Italy re-criminalised drug use, thought the govt. espouse ‘treatment not prison.’ However, there is no distinction between users so anybody can end up in ‘treatment’ further discussion of all this continues in the parliament as of Sept, ’04.
Oscar and Fernanda report that they have been working on the legalisation of cannabis since 1997. They say that growing it is very common in Spain, with the biggest risk being people trying to steal it (particularly around the French/Spanish border!) Fernanda invited ENCOD to be a part of a festival August 2005, which could also be a way to raise money for the network. We say YEAH!
Farid reports that people cannot even wear a Hemp-leaf T-shirt in France. The govt has introduced a ‘new’ zero-tolerance law, as they say that other European nations have minimalized the dangers of drugs-use.
Ian and Andria summarise: though the reclassification of cannabis has largely had a positive outcome, the war on ‘hard’ drugs users gets worse, e.g. increase drug testing in treatment and prisons, the persecution of the Stapleford 7 and thus hundreds of users be at great health risks. Ian said he received a letter from the Home Secretary reassuring that all the patients would be looked after if doctors sacked or suspended. His role in the ‘Stapleford Case’ is to coordinate the patient action, trying to stop the case from going forward. (For further details of UK drug policy; written report in all files received in Copenhagen.)
2. INSTITUTIONAL DECISIONS
a. Annual report 2003
The Annual report 2003 was approved. The members of the Steering committee were relieved of their financial responsibilities.
The revised statutes were voted. They are added to these minutes. All proposed revisions were approved, except one, on the title. The GA adopted a new title for ENCOD, being:
European Coalition for Just & Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD)
c. Effective members
According to the new statutes, ENCOD has three categories of members: effective, associated and donor members.
Effective membership: half plus one of this group must be represented at an assembly for it to be quorate, meaning legitimate voting.
Associated or donor members cannot be members of the steering committee
For the moment we need one effective member per country. The effective members should be connected to a large constituency of drugs-affected/concerned peoples in their own country; can act as ENCOD contact person in that country and if they cannot make it to AGM’s (General Assemblies) they must nominate another to represent them.
We will install a separate mailing list for effective members so they can have discussions and if necessary organise an assembly on the Internet
The list of effective members consists of:
Andria (UK), Bruno (Belgium), Christine (Germany), Farid (France), Fernanda (Spain), Joep (ENCOD-office), Dasha (Russia), Peter S. (Hungary), Marina (Italy), Fredrick Polak (Netherlands), Berne Stalenkrantz (Sweden), Kimmo (Finland), Joergen (Denmark), Judith (Switzerland). Also Abraço (Portugal), Hope (Bulgaria), Artur Radosz (Poland), Nora Stojanovic (Macedonia), and some other people with particular merits for ENCOD will be invited to join this list.
d. Steering Committee
The Steering Committee Members have the following responsibilities:
1) Execute the decisions of the General Assembly
2) Mandate tasks to the secretariat
3) Being able to meet regularly (three or four times each year)
4) Speak and/or in other ways represent on behalf of ENCOD.
5) Supervise the daily activities of the secretariat
6) Notify important changes to the list of effective members
7) Commit to the two years as member(s) of the Steering Committee.
8) Management of website
With regards to the Eurodrug, we decided to limit this list to the organisations who signed the ICN manifesto. And we decided not to start moderating it as this requires a full-time job.
The following people received the mandate as members of the ENCOD steering committee (and committed themselves to this task for the coming two years):
Joep Oomen Treasurer
Andria Efthimiou-Mordaunt Secretary
Farid Ghehioueche – Chair
Fernanda de la Figuera
Also a representative from Central and Eastern European countries will participate in the steering committee, for the moment this will be Dasha Ocheret, but the definitive decision will be taken in a meeting of CEE organisations for drug policy reform.
Only SC members can represent ENCOD, and only the chairperson or someone appointed by him/her can sign legally binding documents.
3. ACTIVITIES FOR THE COMING YEAR
Regarding the high level drug debate in the EU
Joep suggested that ENCOD has been established as a reference point for Drug Policy Reform in Europe after our participation in the Dublin EU Summit. He thinks we should be aiming at a conference before the end of this year (when the new EU Drug strategy for 2005-2008 will have to be approved), with policy-makers and a large number of NGOs present to discuss where Europe really is regarding drug policy. Others in the network are not so convinced that we should be spending our time with high level policy makers, but since we have already…
The meeting between Carel Edwards of the European Commission and members of ENCOD brought no perspectives for collaboration as was anticipated; he simply advised that we lobby the European Parliament to make sure there is a budget within the EU for the inclusion of civil society organisations on this issue; organisations like us. TRP’s presence in the European Parliament has been seriously reduced and Joep thus suggested that this could mean more opportunities for ENCOD to engage at that level. But lobbying the Parliament for a new budget proposal usually takes a long time.
Virginia mentioned the possibility to start making our own databases on drugs as the EMCDDA databases are not often used by politicians.
A suggestion made was that Swedish drug users seek asylum in countries that do not have such repressive drug policies and that we stage press coverage for this.
Use the ENCOD symbols as much as we can, and Kris suggested we must take them particularly as much as possible around to festivals and other (particularly activist) events as they arise. (Of course, all literature needs to be translated into appropriate languages.) We need to make a flyer about ENCOD which could an appeal for donations.
Marina suggested we have collecting boxes for ENCOD.
Fundraising is a priority as the current funds only reach to the end of this year. We decided that we need to focus on a pan-European bottom-up fundraising campaign, for which we need good publicity symbols. This is something the Steering Committee will concentrate on the coming weeks.
At the same time, we will elaborate an action plan for the year that will include several activities and lead up to an assembly of the International Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (189 organisations from the entire world) to be held in Vienna during the coming UN CND Meeting in 2005. This plan will have a budget for which we will start contacting VIPS and any foundation that could be interested. We will also ask the European organisations that can raise the money for a representative to this Assembly, to raise an additional amount of money to pay the trip of someone from a developing country.
ACTIVITY CALENDAR 2004/2005
August 2004: Youth World Social Forum in Barcelona (Follow up: Cañamo?)
August 2004: Hemp Parade in Berlin (Follow up: AKZEPT/ Hanfpeople in Berlin?)
1 October 2004: Hemp Fair in London (ENCOD will organise a stand there, all members can put their material, Follow up: Joep/Ian),
15/16 October 2004: European Social Forum (ESF) at Alexander Palace, North London. (Follow-up: Andria)
Also in October, the EU will publish the results of the evaluation of the current EU Drug Strategy. We will have a press release ready before that. We also need to write a letter to EU parliamentarians (at this time) as idea suggested by C.Edwards, and to propose to have a ”moment of dialogue” with civil society before the new EU drug strategy is decided upon (between december 2004 and march 2005)
1st November 2004: International Drug Users Day, location currently being arranged.
End of November: Senlis Council conference in Paris.
December 2004: 1st is World AIDS Day, EU Action Plan Meeting.
January 2005: Spannabis in Barcelona
March 2005: CND meeting in Vienna; more on the EU action plan
April 2005: International Harm Reduction Conference in Belfast/N.Ireland.
August 2005: Torello Drug Policies Festival, Spain
Ian asked if ENCOD could support some of the activism around the Stapleford case if they are in London this Sept/October time? In principle, we can.
Make contact with people like musicians, artists, actors and other VIP’s who have expressed some very socially-conscious ideas and would probably support us.
Festivals (as mentioned above in Spain)
· Membership Fees and Donations
1st step: we must decide on and stick to one idea regarding the ‘advert’ for the press in future, which tells who we are and what we do. We must bring out leaflets, selves and ideas to as many cultural and social justice events as possible.
Minutes by Andria with a little help from Farid and Joep.
The meeting finished at 7.15pm, June 26th, with an agreement to have the next steering committee meeting in London October Ist, 2nd and 3d. Andria to host.