On 15 June we will have a core group meeting of the 6 members of the Civil Society Forum who are in charge of preparing the agenda of the next CSF session (together with the EC). Depending on the outcome of this meeting, we propose to organise one or more of the following events in the European Parliament – and to initiate contacts with MEPs who could collaborate with us in this regard.
The proposal below will then be discussed at the General Assembly in Frankfurt.
Eventually these events could be combined or organised in a series (for instance up to the next CND meeting in Vienna). The targeted audience will consist of Members of European Parliament (Committee on Civil Liberties, Budget, Health), European Commission, Horizontal Drug Group, press and the interested public.
After the GA in Frankfurt, we will contact MEPs and their assistants to discuss the practicalities, and then we will know more. For now it remains a proposal for Encod to start acting.
The events would deal with the following issues:
1. DRUG POLICY: THE STRAIGHT FACTS
The European Union, being a patchwork of different policies in countries with similar political, demographical and cultural conditions, is an ideal place to compare policies and learn from positive and negative experiences. For many years, drug policy reformers have been calling for an “impact assessment” on drug policy: to measure the positive and negative impacts of current policies and alternative schemes. However, until now European governments show litlle enthusiasm to carry out such an assessment. Therefore, actors coming from civil society organisations or the academic world need to do this work.
The conference will deal with the costs and benefits of current drug policy in the European Union, as well as those of possible alternative schemes based on legal regulation.
Speakers: experts on health, legal, sociological and economical aspects of the drugs market.
Expected output: to gain enough political support inside the European Pariament behind an initiative to make an official “impact assessment” on drug policy in the EU.
2. THE CANNABIS TRIBUNAL
The Cannabis Tribunal consists of a series of hearings. In each of them, two expert speakers will present opposing testimonies on a given subject. Subsequently, they have to defend their opinions for an audience of people who are involved in the cannabis phenomenon (consumers, representatives of the legal industry related to cannabis use, interested citizens). Finally, a tribunal consisting of legal experts will judge the quality of the used arguments (not the content of these arguments)
The Tribunal will deal with the proposals for a legal regulation of the cannabis market that have been developed in the past years: coffeeshops, cannabis social clubs, medical dispensaries…
Speakers: representatives of (non-) commercial establishments providing cannabis in a legal way, as well as opponents to cannabis legalization (civil society, political parties etc.)
Expected output: to show and exchange the experiences on the different models for a legal cannabis market in the EU and facilitate an open and sincere debate about the international prohibition of cannabis.
3. A LEAF THAT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
In spite of scientific evidence that it is a harmless substance that could have many therapeutic uses, the coca leaf and its traditional derivates continue to be classified as a prohibited substance according to the Single Convention on Drugs of 1961. The European Union and the US continue their policy of forced erradication and crop substitution of coca cultivation in spite of the violent conflicts that are caused by these policies, while the economic situation of coca growers does not improve and the illicit supply of cocaine to consumer countries does not diminish. The Bolivian government has announced its desire to increase the legal market for coca leaves in order to reduce the impact of the illegal market (for cocaine production) It has also presented a proposal to redraw the coca leaf from List 1 of Controlled Substances that is attached to the 1961 Single Convention. In March 2010, it announced the introduction on the market of a new soft drink based on coca leaves, named Coca Colla, which could be commercialised internationally and legally using the same margins as Coca Cola.
The conference will be part of a strategy to promote the legal import of derivates of the coca leaf in Europe, that have been produced and commercialised in a framework that guarantees environmental protection and a fair distribution of profits among all those involved.
Speakers: Bolivian authorities, representatives of enterprises, NGOs, parliamentarians and technical/commercial/legal experts in international trade.
Expected output: this event should mark the start of a chain of events both in Bolivia and in Europe with the aim of promoting the commercialisation of coca leaf products in Europe on the basis of fair trade.