ENCOD regularly publishes articles in the Cannadouro Magazine from Portugal.
Here’s the last winter edition published in the Portuguese language with the English version below.
ENCOD, the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, is advocating for the “freedom to farm”. But what does that mean? Whilst it is perceived as something totally normal to grow your own herbs and vegetables, many people worldwide are prosecuted for cultivating psychoactive plants and fungi for personal use. Due to multiple reasons, it is important that mankind does not lose its right to farm.
Farming, the contact with soil and plants is what made us who we are today. It sustained societies for millennia and we won’t allow these practices are being prohibited, restricted and controlled. However, small farmers have to be protected against corporate practices that are not only destroying families but whole species, cultivars and biodiversity in general. Several plants are prohibited by law, or their use is restricted, which is violating basic human rights. Even whilst more legislations adapt their hemp (Cannabis sativa) policies, there is still the debate about banning further plants, such as kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) or Iboga (Tabernanthe iboga). Many plants have been banned or tightly regulated without any obvious need for regulatory interference, e.g. salvia (Salvia divinorum) or kava (Piper methysticum). These regulatory practices are harmful to societies as they criminalise traditional cultivation and use and deter from getting involved in nature.
Whilst it is debatable what would be the best regulatory model for cocaine, there was never a need for a ban on coca (Erythroxylum coca) and traditional coca products, such as tea and candy. To combat several contemporary challenges (such as prohibition, climate change, disrespect for human rights) ENCOD advocates for sustainable development of the world’s economies and farming policies that will protect and favour small farmers, self-sufficient production and social consumption models, as well as a public policy that is not prohibiting plants and substances that have been used by humans throughout history and can therefore be considered as part of the common heritage of humankind.
The so-called “war on drugs” is a war against people, plants and the whole environment. It is absurd that in some regions the beautiful poppy flower (Papaver somniferum) with its nutritious seeds is banned just because its latex, also known as opium, is used to reduce physical and mental pain. Of course, high and continuous consumption may lead to a substance use disorder, but is this a reason to ban a plant, ambush farmers and incarcerate those who disagree? Commercialising opium, as the British did in the 19th century, is something worth criticising and perhaps even impeding, but nobody should withhold this plant from mankind. Of course, the same applies to hemp and its THC-containing products, which are more and more used in the medical context.
Our concern about the impact of current drug policies upon society, the stigmatisation of users, together with economic disparity and associated harm to long-term human well-being, prompted us to emphasise the freedom to farm psychoactive plants, which should be declared the “common heritage of humankind”, irrespective of existing claims to national or international jurisdiction. “Freedom to farm” is proclaiming these plants as international commons, as significant natural resources that are acknowledged beyond the limits of national or international jurisdictions, and as such, are part of the common heritage of humankind. This is an ethical concept and a general concept of international law and therefore should undermine current regulatory practices. These resources should be available for everyone’s use and benefit.
Furthermore, we all hold the responsibility to care for and protect the environment, of which we are a part, for present and future generations. The global civil society is playing a crucial role in the development of, and advocacy for, freedom to farm. Please join our movement.
By Maja Kohek & Fabian Steinmetz