Freedom to farm – No prison term for André Fürst
After the refusal of his appeal to the Swiss Federal Court, André Fürst,
founder of Chanvre-Info, is now facing a prison term of 29 months
because of the production and sale of hemp products. All around the
world, people who are in favour of individual liberties and a pragmatic
drug policy should take action against this unacceptable sentence.
We ask you to sign and send a letter adressed to Swiss authorities.
This remarkably harsh sentence affects a long-term militant for the
right to cultivate hemp. André Fürst has never acted as a drug
trafficker. He has invested almost the entire benefits of his company in
activities to providing information on the various applications of hemp, apart from its psychoactive and medical uses. He has created an agro-industrial chain resulting in a large amount of new and perfectly legal hemp products: textiles, food supplies, cosmetics, building material, plastics and energy supply, all containing less than 0,3% THC.
The hemp industry fits perfectly well into the concept of small-scale
agriculture that operates without state support and promotes sustainable development by replacing the use of non-renewable energy sources and forms of agriculture that damage the environment. Hemp has the potential to become one of the answers to the global ecological and economical challenges of the 21st Century. André Fürst is one of the people who has done most for its rehabilitation.
André Fürst is also an active supporter of drug policy reform in
Europe. He has organised several presentations on the beneficial uses of hemp, among others in the European Parliament, and elaborated concrete proposals to install harm reduction measures concerning the use of cannabis and other drugs. In June 2007, André Fürst was elected as a member of the Steering Committee of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), a pan-European association formed by organisations of citizens working for drug policy reform.
From 1996 to 2004, Swiss local and national authorities implemented a
tolerant policy on the sale of small quantities of hemp containing more
than 0,3%. During those years, approximately 300 shops and companies
operated in Switzerland within the margins of this policy that was
supported by official health institutions as well as the Federal
In 2004, this policy came to an end, following the refusal of a definitive change of drug laws with a tight parliamentary majority of 6 votes. All
companies were forced to close their operations and most legal cases
against them ended with a conditional prison term or a fine. However, in
the case of André Fürst, authorities appear to have decided to make one person pay for this collective political failure.
André Fürst’s fight is political, so the sanction against him is
political as well. Swiss authorities want to show that the country is
entirely committed to the war on drugs. As everywhere else in the world,
this war is failure. In the week up to New Year’s Eve 2006, at the
height of the ski season, a research found that up to 1,400 lines of cocaine were snorted every day in the exclusive Alpine city of St Moritz.
Switzerland also applies a pragmatic drug policy concerning the use of
drugs like heroin, with a remarkably sophisticated harm reduction policy
including the existence of user rooms and the controlled dispensation of
heroin. Does this pragmatic policy end with hemp? Are Swiss authorities
sacrificing the consumers of cannabis and hemp to save the country’s image?
By imprisoning André Fürst, Swiss authorities make an end to a
courageous example of rational drug policies in the heart of Europe.
They envisage a person who has dedicated his life to promote the
beneficial uses of this plant which has accompanied human-kind for more
than 10.000 years. The consequence of this sentence is that many
thousands of consumers will be forced to provide themselves with
cannabis on the illegal market, which is dominated by organised crime.
We call upon all activists of the entire world to support the appeal for
the revision of this sentence and send the following letter addressed to
André Fürst should continue to promote his civil right to participate in
the political debate and promote the beneficial use of hemp.
Please sign and send the letter adressed to Swiss authorities. Thank you.