Minutes of the Encod General Assembly 2013
21 – 23 June 2013
Truth is in the voyage, not in the port that will receive me (La verdad está en el viaje, no en el puerto que me acogerá – Los Barrankillos)
1) Pedro Quesada / Enlace / Spain
2) Enrico Fletzer / Radio K / Italy /
3) Louis Everaerts / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
4) Kris Verdonck / Trekt Uw Plant / Belgium /
5) Bill Griffin / UK, Belgium
6) Hanka Gabrielova / Czech Republic
7) Olivier Bertrand / CIRC NORD EST / France
8) Fredrick Polak / SDB / Netherlands /
9) Urki Goni / Urjogabardea/ Spain /
10) Beatriz Negrety / Friends of the Coca leaf / Belgium
11) David Rosse / OHV / Austria /
12) Alexander Pistor / OHV / Austria
13) Derrick Bergman / Gonzomedia / Netherlands
14) Has Cornelissen / Legalize! / Netherlands
15) Yliena Daniello / TILT / Italy
16) Martin Barriuso / FAC / Spain
17) Franco D’Agata / COLLETTIVO INFOSHOCK / Italy
18) Isabella Controllo / COLLETTIVO INFOSHOCK / Italy
19) Gabriele / COLLETTIVO INFOSHOCK / Italy
20) Janko Belin / Areal / Slovenia
21) Andrej Kurnik / Areal / Slovenia
22) Jan Bojer Vindheim / Norway
23) Lisa Lankes / PCN / Netherlands
24) Alessandra Viazzi / PIC – Italy
25) Hein Schafrat / PCN / Netherlands
26) Nina van Alphen / PCN / Netherlands
27) Flavia / COLLETTIVO INFOSHOCK / Italy
28) Kenzi Riboulet / Chanvre et Violettes / France
29) Olivier Mathieu / CIRC NORD EST / France
30) Joep Oomen/ ENCOD/ Belgium
31) Elia Decaro / COLLETTIVO INFOSHOCK / Italy
32) EUSFAC / Spain
Excused: Martin Steldinger, Marion Soboll, Thomas Birkner (Hanfparade, Germany), Ingrid Wunn, Andrea Thurauf (Hanf – Initiative, Germany), Veronica Russo (Federico Abuelo, Argentina)
1. BUREAUCRATICAL MATTERS
The annual report on 2012 was approved, all Steering Committee members have been relieved from their duties.
The financial situation continues to be worrisome: there is only one person (paid for half time) working in the secretariat. Since 2003 we never had any major subsidies or support from big donors. We survive exclusively thanks to membership fees. We ask every member to help finding new members and/or sponsors. Information material will be made available that can be used for this purpose.
2. OVERVIEW ON DRUG POLICY SITUATION IN EUROPE
Spain – Pedro Quesada and Urki Goni
The situation of harm reduction and drug user organisations is critical due to the policies of austerity. Many of these organisations are forced to close down. The problems of the 80-ies (many drug related deaths and diseases) could return. Measures have been focussed on eliminating the visual consequencues, not on the root of the problem.
The Cannabis Social Clubs are established but the current government does not look on them with sympathy. They serve most of all to mobilise people to demand their rights.
In various regions, authorities are considering to regulate CSC’s. In Basque Country, a parliamentary debate will start soon. The same in Catalonia, where 4 categories have been identified:
1. Small clubs with democratic structure
2. Commercial clubs
3. Therapy centres with cannabis
4. Art clubs that are financed with cannabis
Authorities have said they will only accept the first category.
Czech Republic – Hanka Gabrielova
Since January 1st medicinal cannabis is legal (after a large petition campaign), but not yet available due to bureaucratical problems. It will be available in pharmacies (Bedrocan imported from Netherlands). It cannot be paid back by medical insurance. Homegrowing is still illegal, so Cannabis Social Clubs cannot be set up yet. However, some groups are setting up underground clubs, and there has been an action to spread seeds to older people who want to use for medicinal purposes. We are waiting for lawyers to defend the concept.
Consumption is not illegal but posession is, though if it is 5 grammes or less it is an administrative offense (fine but no prison). Some growshops exist, others have been attacked hardly (some owner have been condemned to jail terms of 18 years, appeals are underway ). Laws against posession of other drugs (natural/chemical) are very strict.
Austria – David Rosse and Alexander Pistor
This year 7.000 people participated in the Global Marijuana March. This is a success for Vienna. Activists unite in ÖHV, they have an office in the centre of Vienna, thanks to support from head/growshops. They also participated in courses on how to improve communication skills.
Medicinal cannabis (dronabinol) is available, medical insurance pays for it. New measures against use of drugs in traffic: analysis of THC in hair. Of every 20 drug related legal interventions, 18 are cancelled. Harm reduction (Check It – pill testing) receives governmental support. A new law was approved on synthetical drugs but mostly directed to persecute big dealers, possession for own use has been decriminalised.
Activists are working with lawyers to convince local authorities to allow CSC’s. But for the moment the concept is used mainly as a political slogan.
In september 2013 there will be elections, main (social democrat) party promises to depenalise cannabis.
Slovenia – Janko Belin
Harm reduction centres that were set up by users themselves have been institutionalised, but are now threatened by policies of austerity. There is a problem with drug users who come out from prison and do not have anywhere to go. The medical establishment is still operating in a paternalistic way. We speak mostly of the benefits of drugs.
There are several initiatives to create CSC’s, but still no official club exists. They will need authorisation from Ministry of Health.
Italy– Elio Decaro and Enrico Fletzer
Italian drug laws are draconic. Recently a judge has considered them as inconstitutional, as there can not be the same punishment for different substances. It seems that various courts are now considering cultivation for own use as legal.
Health services are suffering financial cuts.
Sativex and Bedrocan are legal but only available for certain diseases. And only through the pharmacy, and with an attest from the doctor (many doctors don’t want to give it).
Several movements are proposing change of the law. But the bureaucratisation of medical cannabis shows that legal changes do not always mean improvement (as long as the medical establishment is behind). Since many years efforts are underway to create a Medical Cannabis Social Club. Underground this is already happening.
France – Olivier Bertrand and Kenzi Riboulet
Last year was a busy year for activists: breakthrough of Cannabis Social Clubs, leading to two judicial cases. For the moment it seems that the first battle is lost. However lots of people are willing to work in the concept, but underground. It is an important tool to unite activists. Some people designed a soft ware programme to administrate CSC’s ‘Bud revolution’.
The Netherlands – Has Cornelissen and Hein Schafrat
The conservative governments of the past years have meant a drawback in drug policy: mushrooms have been prohibited, a more repressive policy on coffeeshops, the weedpass has cut the country in two (in the south foreigners cannot come into coffeeshops, in the north they can). Now the government is preparing measures to limit the THC percentage in cannabis sold in coffeeshops. Activists are fighting against it, together with scientists and lobbyists.
There is an opportunity in the crisis: legal regulation could generate jobs.
One city (Utrecht) wants to set up a club for medicinal consumers, in collaboration with coffeeshops. Dutch national government has banned the idea, but the city’s major has radicalised. Currently he wants to put it up even without support from national authorities. Some coffeeshops consider a model in which the shops start to function as consumer cooperatives.
Belgium – Kris Verdonck
The good news is that Cannabis Social Clubs are not attacked anymore, besides Trekt uw Plant there are now two other CSC’s. Slowly but solidly they are growing. In Liege a scientific experiment with heroin dispensation came to an end, later this year the results will be published. Next year there will be important elections: it could be that the political climate will change for the worse.
On the situation of Cannabis Social Clubs in other countries:
Germany has the largest population in Europe so cannabis clubs here would be a major coup for the movement. Cultural differences come into play here as German society is not one that tolerates grey areas in the law. There are many underground growers throughout the country but they are not likely to come out into the open until the laws change. The most likely way forward is for people to build petitions and lobby their political parties, most likely the Greens.
There is hope, a medicinal user has recently gone through the courts and is the first person to be allowed to grow their own cannabis at home. There is a condition though, he must secure his house at a cost of 14.000 EURs. As per the German way progress is being made slowly and thoroughly. This will mean that, if laws are created that allow Cannabis Social Clubs to operate, they will be very clear and will no doubt offer a solid framework for other countries to follow.
Many groups (mostly online in Facebook) claim to be Cannabis Social Clubs. Around 80 such groups exist around the UK. They don’t actually distribute any cannabis, but seem to have taken the name in order to push the boundaries of UK law. Police say cannabis is pretty much decriminalised, however “pretty much” is not enough to convince people to come out in the open with cannabis clubs. The government has said they will clamp down on such organizations. Leaving the market open for criminals instead.
In Copenhagen there is a tolerant climate towards people buying for personal use but not for growing. The city of Copenhagen is willing to set up government run coffeeshops and social clubs. Danish national government is not willing to support these plans though.
Law has recently been flexibilised. Activists are starting to promote Cannabis Social Clubs.
3. REPORT BY STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS AND ELECTION NEW SC
Fredrick, Janko, Enrico, Hanka and Joep presented their reports.
Conclusion: Change is in the air. Even if Encod does not do any activism anymore, the war on drugs will end. But how will future policies look like? Will they take into account the interests of consumers and small scale producers? And more importantly, how can Encod contribute to this most effectively?
The official so-called dialogues with civil society at the UN in Vienna and the EU in Brussels do not offer much opportunity to really influence the decision making process; in both cases there is no real dialogue with official representatives. In Vienna the Vienna NGO Committee (VNGOC) is dominated by prohibitionist organisations, in Brussels the Civil Society Forum (CSF) is dominated by the European Commission, that is neutralising any debate.
Differences of opinion in the SC on how to deal with the CSF have blocked our work the past two years. Finally we lost our CSF membership: this creates new opportunities for other type of lobbying.
The secretariat should be strengthened by people doing administrative tasks, translating etc. so the coordinator can focus on other issues. Therefore a fundraising campaign should be set up, with position paper in several languages and a concrete work plan for the next year. Such a document can then be used to find sponsors and new members. If all Encod members help to find at least two other members per year, we would quickly increase the funding too.
The SC should be more effective then in the past years. If there is a lasting problem between people, it could be a political issue and the GA needs to be involved in its solution.
For some people it is difficult to participate in SC activities without some financial support. However, if we give support, it should be the same for everybody: no commission for fundraisers. If people work more than 1 day a week for encod, they should receive a small compensation.
The coming SC will consist of 5 people, accompanied by an Inner Circle Group: this group consists of at least one representative from each country who takes responsability to feed the SC with information from that country and helps to elaborate Encod activities in that country, plus people with a specific expertise in an area. Communication between SC and IC is crucial.
The following 5 people will form the new SC: Derrick and Has (Netherlands), David (Austria), Janko (Slovenia) and Enrico (Italy). Derrick obtained 23 votes, Enrico 21, David 12, Has 7, Janko 6.
They will take responsibility, with the help of the secretariat and the Inner Circile members, for each of the 4 areas of Encod: Campaigns, Lobby, Information and Organisation.
In the coming weeks the SC will define how to set up their communication channels with the Inner Circle and the rest of Encod members. The plan is to build Encods communication structure as a snowflake with secretariat in contact with 4 coordinators of areas who again communicate amongst them, and with volunteers who do tasks in these 4 areas.
Presidency of the Steering Committee will rotate among the SC members. In the next 6 months, Derrick Bergman will take this role.
Other people volunteered to do specific activities for Encod. For instance, Martin Barriuso (Spain) offered to set up connections between Encod and Latinamerican activists.
4. EUROPEAN CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUB TASKFORCE
Should we become a European Federation of CSCs? No, Encod cannot and does not want to play the role of judge or control agency. Therefore it has no sense to establish a Federation now. We can promote the concept, but it is not the only possible one. We encourage every initiative to promote a legal cannabis market, but we insist on the Freedom to Farm for own use and CSC’s as the basis for this framework.
Therefore Encod membership should not be conditioned to agreement with CSC concept: anyone can become an Encod member, their support is wellcome. Cannabis Social Clubs that want to be recognised by Encod as such are requested to join Encod as a member.
CSC’s are local initiatives, they should adapt to local conditions. Encod can help in various ways: as a database for starting CSC’s, with propaganda material, evt. as a contact point for exchanging experiences, practices, and seeds.
We need a text to show quickly and clearly what is a CSC, to show to journalists, politicians etc, to make clear that CSC’s should be distinguished from other initiatives (groups who are not transparant, that do not invest in activism, are commercially oriented).
After few adjustments were made to the proposal, this text was agreed
5. AUTHENTIC CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM ON DRUG POLICIES
European Commission has always tried to manipulate the dialogue process with civil society. The original intentions of the EU may have been good, but technocrats convert them into a nightmare. We do not have to continue referring to the name ‘Civil Society Forum’. As Encod we are a legitimate representation of European civil society. In all our activities in Brussels, we can invite broadly: also opponents are wellcome. But we should not concentrate on the European Commission, but direct ourselves to the genuine representation of civil society in Brussels: the European Parliament.
The taboo on drug policies is our biggest enemy.
Campaign for European Parliament elections
Follow up: David with secretariat and members
We have to map and shape opinions of future MEP’s.
First of all by a meeting in the EP in the autumn, inviting organisations from all over Europe. There a new manifesto can be formulated, for Public Health, Human Rights and Transparency in European drug policies. The months after, we can inventarise the opinions of the MEP candidates and according to their anwsers, mobilise people to vote. The list of ‘drug law reform friendly’ candidates can be put on the digital map on the website. After the elections we can then re-contact the elected MEPs and start to work with them on initiatives towards the Commission and the Member States. We can make them our ‘watchdog’ of drug policies.
A petition via Avaaz could be made as well. But the experience is that people don’t want to give their identity if it is about drugs. And the impact on political process is doubtful.
Follow up : Derrick with secretariat and webmaster
The Encod website needs to be redesigned. It should contain a digital map of Europe where people can click on for more information on state of the law, political perspectives, activism, contact adresses etc.
Follow up: Derrick with secretariat
We need this paper soon: 1 page A4 – explanation of what is Encod, what we stand for, what we aim at, translated into actions, in order to give out to politicians, journalists, potential sponsors, if possible on hemp paper
Follow up: David with secretariat
We need to campaign governments before going to Vienna.
Then in Vienna we can organise an event outside (either a manifestation or a silent protest), and eventually a delegation of 5 people inside the UN building.
We need a workplan involving a sponsorship package that can be introduced at the hempfairs in Vienna (18-20 October) and Prague (15-17 November). Then we then conclude early december what kind of event we will organise. At least the Encod GA will be organised in Vienna during the weekend before the CND. David will take over the Encod representation at the VNGOC from Frantisek.
Cannabis Social Club campaign
Follow up: Janko with secretariat
Promotion activities will continue. Possibly a visit to Slovenia, Croatia and perhaps Bosnia/Serbia in the autumn.
We want to set up a European network of lawyers willing to defend the concept of CSCs in their country. We could search funding for organising a meeting of lawyers.
Follow up: Has with secretariat
There are several ideas: digital crowdfunding, organising auctions of art, sponsorship dinner, ask every member to find new members, ask all members who carry out economic activities to donate a percentage of their profit to Encod.
Enrico will take in charge the organisation of writers for the monthly Encod bulletin.
6. LIST OF EVENTS
10 August Hanfparade, Berlin
13 – 15 September: Cannabis Social Forum / Expo Grow, in Irun, Basque country, Spain
18 – 20 October: Cultiva Hemp fair, Vienna, Austria
15 – 17 November: Cannafest Prague
24 – 28 November: High Times Cup Amsterdam
Early December: Meeting European Parliament, Brussels
End of March 2014 Encod General Assembly in Vienna (if a big action is expected in front of the UN, we will postpone the GA with one month).
End of May 2014: European parliament elections