LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS IN BELGIUM
1. Consumption and possession
Drug consumption is considered an offence only if it takes place in a group. According to a ministerial decree of January 2005, possession of cannabis for personal use is depenalised. This means: if you are above 18, and have less than 3 grammes on you, and if you are not causing public nuisance according to the police officer or the judge, you will not be persecuted. If you are under 18, if you have more than 3 grammes, if you are into public nuisance, if there are aggravating circumstances or if you are stopped by police outside the district where you live, you may have a problem. Punishment is with fines or prison in case of aggravating circumstances.
Cultivation of one female plant per person is allowed. The association Trekt Uw Plant, a Cannabis Social Club based in Antwerp, that has established a collective plantation based on the principle of one female plant per person, has been absolved in two court cases that were opened by Antwerp prosecutors (one on the accusation of “criminal association” and the other on “incitement to drug use”). The association is now operating on an experimental level growing a collective plantation for the personal consumption of its members.
Illegal. More heavily punished then before the depenalisation of cannabis (now it is always jail, before it was jail or treatment)
4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc.
Officially this is not forbidden, but it is very hard to set up a growshop. Authorities will do everything to undermine the functioning of the shop, using legal accusations like “incitement to drug use”.
There is one growshop, THC, in Brussels. Some small efforts to open other ones are on-going.
5. Production and distribution of hemp products
It is legal, but difficult to find. One hemp shop opened in Leuven early 2006.
Contact for Cannabis Activism in Belgium:
Tel. 32 495 122 644
POLICIES ON OTHER DRUGS
Compared to other countries, Belgium has started rather late to shift the general emphasis of its drug policy from law enforcement to public health. Harm reduction measures have only started to become implemented in recent years, and the situation is still very different in various parts of the country (Belgium is divided in three communities: Flanders, the French speaking region and Brussels).
In the French-speaking cities of Liege and Charleroi, harm reduction programmes have been functioning for several years, and in Liege the possibility of a heroin prescription trail has been established. In Flanders, the process is much more slow. Drug policies in Belgium are based on a law from 1921 which has been revised substantially in 1975 and 1994. Adjustments in the legal approach are also being made by royal decrees and “circulaires”, which do not always need to be approved by Parliament.
Drug possession may be punished with imprisonment. In 1998, following the conclusions of a parliamentary working group, a “circulaire” has been sent out to all criminal prosecutors advising them to consider cannabis possession to be ‘a low priority’. The law is not clear on this point, which makes the situation different in various parts of the country: it all depends on the regional prosecutor, or even members of the police force, how this loophole is interpreted.
A royal decree on the use of cannabis for medical purposes was issued in July 2001. According to this decree, it is now possible for Belgian doctors to prescribe cannabis to patients, who may obtain the product from an agency based in the Netherlands specialised in medical cannabis.
Traditionally, opposition against drug policy reform comes from the Christian-democratic party, and the Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang), a neo-fascist party that has become a very important factor in the political scene. This party tends to counter every effort to rationalise policies with campaigns aimed at increase the social alarm about drugs, including cannabis.
CONTACTS FOR DRUG POLICY REFORM IN BELGIUM: LIAISONS ANTIPROHIBITIONNISTES
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