Press release, December 6, 2013
BRUSSELS – Encod, the European coalition for just and effective drug policies, has presented a manifest for safe and healthy drug policies today, at a special hearing in the European Parliament. It contains ten recommendations to the European Council, made by the European Parliament in 2004, that have never been implemented.
Activists for drug policy reform from all over Europe gathered in Brussels for the hearing today. They discussed recent developments in drug reform and adopted a manifest for safe and healthy drug policies. This document contains ten recommendations to the European council, made by the European Parliament in 2004. None of these have been implemented. Encod will ask all candidates for the European Parliament elections in May 2014 to sign this manifest and declare support to the recommendations. Candidates who sign will be actively endorsed and supported by Encod in the run-up to the elections.
Joep Oomen, Encod coordinator: “Drug prohibition has totally failed and the war on drugs is increasingly seen as an ineffective and detrimental policy, causing problems instead of solving them. European governments should adapt to this new reality and commit themselves to safe and healthy drug policies, just as the European parliament has recommended ten years ago”
In fact, as a result of the economic crisis, in many European countries conditions for drug users and harm reduction services have suffered drawbacks compared to the situation of ten years ago. In countries in the South or East of Europe, the situation could be considered as similar to the 1980s.
Encod also condemns recent repressive actions against companies and organizations in Spain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands:
Pannagh, one of the oldest cannabis social clubs in Spain, is being prosecuted, two years after the closure of this non-profit association, established in 2003. The prosecution calls for up to six years in prison for club officials. It’s both ironic and tragic that three board members are accused of involvement in a criminal organization, when Pannagh is exactly the opposite: a legally registered association, whose activities have been developed without a shadow of secrecy. Encod fully supports the cannabis social club model as a safe, transparent and healthy alternative to the black market.
In November over fifty growshops in the Czech Republic were raided by the police. These shops only sell legal products, like soil and gardening equipment. The raid followed a controversial lawsuit against two owners of the Hydroponics growshop in 2011. They are charged with participating in large scale cannabis growing, have spent over two years in prison and were recently sentenced to six and seven years. Encod strongly condemns the criminalization and persecution of people who sell legal products to people who wish to find an alternative to the illegal market by growing cannabis at home. Holding shopkeepers accountable for the activities of their customers is unjust and unacceptable.
Dutch Minister of justice Opstelten seems to be waging his very own war on cannabis, in a country that decriminalized personal use, possession and sale of small quantities of cannabis in 1976. Policy changes like the “weedpass” that bans tourists from coffeeshops and a maximum thc level for cannabis sold in coffeeshops only benefit the black market and do nothing to address the real problem: the prohibition of any kind of cannabis production. Encod supports the urgent calls by local and national Dutch politicians to finally resolve this problem by regulating cannabis production for coffeeshops and for personal use by adults.
The recent drawbacks in the Czech Republic, Spain and The Netherlands could turn out to be the final pangs of cannabis prohibition. It seems the prohibitionists are mining the harbor as they retreat, causing unnecessary and unacceptable harm to European citizens. Encod calls upon the European Union to follow the example of Uruguay and the American states of Colorado and Washington and develop effective policies that regulate cannabis instead of simply banning it.