On the world-drug day, June 26th, we started a citizens’ initiative in Austria. We decided that first signatory should be Mr. Josef Rohaczek, a retired criminal police officer who has been fighting for fair drug laws for a long time and is also running the Elternkreis (elternkreis.at) who put the “tree of hope” in front of UN building.
Together with Mr. Rohaczek and Mr. Christoph Fasching and with the help of other ENCOD activists we collected the necessary signatures in order to present the CI to the Parliament.
We received a first statement form the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, which we also commented insisting on a compromise between abstinence and treatment. The next meeting of the committee will be on July 1st (see the updates below).
Please find here some excerpts we translated as well as the link to the original. Only Austrian citizens can sign!
Summary / excerpt of the Citizens‘ initiative „Wiener Aufruf“
Changes to the existing drug policy in the sense of a drug policy that complies with human rights by minimizing harm, eliminating the black market, increasing the protection of minors and decriminalizing people who use drugs.
This issue was supported by 781 citizens with their signature until it was brought into the National Council. (Note: at least 500 legally valid signatures must be available for submission to the National Council.)
The National Council is requested to implement a drug policy that complies with human rights in accordance with the attached “Wiener Aufruf”. This refers to the “Berliner Aufr” in a meaningful way, but is formulated in secular terms. (The “Berlin Call” is available online at https://berlindokument.org in various languages).
The global drug war has failed. The number of drug users has not decreased, neither the space used to cultivate plants for drug production. Without effective drug control strategies, marginalization, poverty and inequality in society will continue. Attempting to make the world drug-free has caused harm to already marginalized social classes and has not led to a reduction in drug use. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is also endangered by environmental pollution due to the illegal and non-environmentally friendly cultivation of plants for drug production and their further processing. It must be guaranteed by law that research with currently still illegalized substances in the sense of health promotion and maintenance is permitted. Many of the illegalized substances, such as various psychedelics, are already used successfully in other countries to treat mental and neurological diseases.
Prohibition is a political mistake and leads to a deadly ideology.
Our citizens’ initiative is targeting the global drug war, which the former UN secretaries-general Ban Ki-Moon and Kofi Annan have already declared failed. Social damage is predictable and unnecessary. There is clear evidence of the link between illicit drug trafficking and an increase in violence, conflict, crime and corruption, and reduced security for citizens. The fight against drug-related crime and corruption is essential for the promotion of human development, and consequent further development (of this idea / conviction) leads to the demand for the decriminalization of all people who use drugs.
The United Nations’ guidelines give member states the freedom to decide how they deal with drug-related offences. The EU limits itself to making recommendations within the framework of the subsidiarity principle. Different drug concepts are used in the 28 EU Member States, each of which has particular characteristics due to its geographical location, the internal dynamics of illegal markets and the capacity of companies to mitigate damage. We need new standards based on existing global leases on human rights, public health and development.
With regard to drugs, prohibition has exhausted all possibilities and must commit to an obvious failure of the prevailing paradigm in the drug control system. This is forcing nations to rethink the wording of some outdated concepts and control mechanisms.
The social approach is a prerequisite for the implementation of a model for drug regulation. To do this, a network of harm reduction organizations must be set up to address certain aspects such as ensure information about drug use, prevention, understanding of drug risks and safe use of the drug. During this process, a balance must be struck between the non-stigmatization of consumers and the non-banalization of substances.
Examples such as:
• Clean or safe drug consumption rooms where people are left with their dignity and consumers can thus take better care of themselves and lead a normal, healthy life
• Cannabis social clubs, non-profit associations which provide their members and patients with clean and affordable cannabis (in compliance with strict rules of conduct)
• Guided ceremonies where psychedelic plants can be safely consumed
The aim is to find a new compromise between medical benefit and problematic consumption, namely the conscious use of drugs. This requires respectful treatment of people who use drugs and, of course, great care should be taken when regulating drugs and changing the law. So it is certainly advisable to start pilot projects that allow first insights into the changed situation. You can then adjust step by step and move forward. Of course, not all types of illegalized substances can be equated. Here is our trust in the experts who develop and carry out these projects. The activists in Austria are of course happy to offer their wide-ranging knowledge here. Harm reduction can only be achieved through education and an expansion of addiction prevention. The threat of the harshness of the criminal code and the associated creation of further criminal structures is therefore missing.
In order to keep the numerous CBD shops from closing, training measures for the staff would be appropriate to ensure optimal advice. Cannabinoids should not only be available in pharmacies; this would put too much strain on the economy due to the high prices. A certified job description “cannabinoid consultant” would be an enrichment of the labour market. State control also has a significant impact on ensuring the purity of the substances (ad. Harm reduction) and thus protecting consumers. Furthermore, it makes sense in terms of transparency and security binding to create rules for the declaration of the ingredients, as well as to print warning notices on the substances.
The norms of human rights must be the basis of a human drug policy. The upcoming reform must focus on reducing the negative consequences of current drug policy. The focus must be to ensure the protection of minors and at the same time to reduce the criminal, global drug wholesale trade and thus also the black market. Austria has always been a pioneer, the principle “therapy instead of punishment”. However, this is limited to “lawbreakers”, where, according to our approach, nobody is breaking the law. Establishing a business line is to be advocated, since this approach would generate tax revenue and jobs instead of threatening punishments. If all these arguments are taken into account, decriminalization of Drug users can be tackled as Austria’s contribution to ending the global drug war.
At the July 1st meeting of the Committee on Petitions and Citizens’ Initiatives, our suggestion was taken and the following was decided:
Citizens’ Initiative No. 19 regarding “Change of the existing drug policy in the sense of a drug policy that complies with human rights by minimizing harm, eliminating the black market, increasing protection of minors and decriminalizing drug users “Vienna Call” – Obtaining opinions from the home and judicial departments.
Electronic approval is still possible!
For Austrian citizens only!