On Thursday, 28th of January, 2010, the Antwerp Court of Appeal (Waalse Kaai 35A, 13e Room, Hall B, from 09.00 hs) dealt with the courtcase in appeal on the verdict against Trekt Uw Plant that was sentenced in february 2009 by the local Antwerp court. The case was scheduled earlier on 1st and 15th of October 2009, but on the request of the prosecutor general, it was postponed twice.
The verdict was known on 25 February 2010.
The reason for the courtcase is the action that took place on May 3d, 2008, in central Antwerp. Then the 3 Board Members of Trekt Uw Plant put a cannabis seed for their personal plant in a flowerpot. In this way they esatblished a collective cannabis plantation, based on the ministerial directive of January 2005 that depenalises the possession of max. 3 grammes or 1 cannabis plant by an adult.
However, the Antwerp justice disagreed and persecuted the board members because of incitement to use drugs.
At an earlier manifestation of Trekt Uw Plant (in december 2006 in the Antwerp Botanical Gardens) 6 members of the association had cut each their clone of a cannabis plant and thus established a collective plantation. Also then the Antwerp justice decided to ignore the ministerial directive and accused Trekt uw Plant of setting up a « criminal organisation ». Although also this action took place in a public place, apparently there was no evidence of « incitement to use drugs » then.
The Local Court in Antwerp dismissed the accusation of « criminal organisation » but condemned the members of the association in May 2007 because of « cannabis possession ». The Court of Appeal then acquitted them in june 2008. In the verdict it is stated that possessing cannabis for personal use by an adult in Belgium is to be considered an administrative offence and not a crime.
With the accusation of “incitement to use drugs”, the Belgian justice apparatus has found a new way to stop the efforts of Trekt Uw Plant, aimed at creating legal security for the cultivation of cannabis for personal use. Thus, it becomes clear that neither the health of the cannabis user nor the public nuisance of the current cannabis market for society as such seem to have any interest.
Growing cannabis for personal use, such as is proposed by Trekt Uw Plant, is a way to protect the health of the cannabis user. Trekt Uw Plant wants to form a legal alternative for the illegal market, with no control whatsoever on the quality of the pricing of the product, and where adulterated cannabis or other illegal drugs are offered.
If cannabis users may grow themselves or as a collective, they don’t have to buy at the illegal market, which will have lots of positive consequences, The use of chemicals in the cultivation of cannabis can be reduced to a minimum. At the moment that users will be able to count on a product of constant quality, they will rationalise and reduce their consumption.
In stead of inciting people to use drugs, in fact Trekt Uw Plant is applying « harm reduction ». Our approach can be compared with distributing clean injection material to intravenous drug users which currently takes place under responsability and with funding of the regional authorities.
The concept of Trekt Uw Plant also fits in an effective approach to all kinds of public nuisance. At the moment that Belgian cannabis users are allowed to grow their own cannabis in a collective plantation, the number of visitors to coffeeshops in Dutch border cities will decrease significantly. Also, the illegal cultivation of cannabis with all its related problems such as theft of electricity and violation of fire safety and environmental norms, will be reduced considerably. At the moment that plantations are tolerated by authorities, the latter can demand that these accomplish criteria concerning safety and environment.
The accusation « incitement to use drugs » against Trekt Uw Plant is a trick of the Belgian justice to maintain cannabis prohibition intact. A revival of a languishing conservative moral. An alibi for overacting legal officers to ignore a decision taken by parliament.
In fact, it is not Trekt Uw Plant that is taken to court, but the federal cannabis policy itself. After 8 years of parliamentary debates, working groups and circulars this policy became established in the ministerial guideline of 2005. With this guideline, the Belgian authorities have given the message that the use of cannabis would from now on be considered out from a public health perspective, in stead of a criminal justice one.
If a citizen is allowed to possess and use cannabis privately, this product should be produced and distributed legally. In many countries, such as the US, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and the Czech republic, the conviction grows that criminalising the cannabis market does not solve problems, but in stead makes them bigger. Apparently the Belgian justice does not want to accept this new reality.
It will not stop Trekt Uw Plant from continuing its fight for a coherent and effective cannabis policy in Belgium. In April the association presented its first harvest to its members
More info: www.trektuwplant.be