PRESS RELEASE OF TREKT UW PLANT
On Friday 9 January 2009, the local court of Antwerp, Belgium, initiated the courtcase against the Belgian Cannabis Social Club Trekt Uw Plant (Draw Up Your Plant) and 4 of its members. Based on the plant seed action during the Worldwide Marijuana March in Antwerp on Saturday 3 May 2008, we are being accused of “apology of drug use”.
We categorically deny these accusations.
Trekt Uw Plant is advocating the right to establish a collective cannabis plantation on the basis of 1 plant per (adult) person, as allowed by the Ministerial Guideline of January 2005. This guideline, which in fact implies that cannabis cultivation for personal use can be allowed in Belgium, is currently being applied by several local authorities. Among others the police commissioners of Brasschaat en Meulebeke have declared in public that they will not persecute the cultivation of cannabis for personal use any longer.
In Antwerp this is not the case.
On 12 december 2006 Trekt Uw Plant presented her first plantation on the basis of the principle of 1 plant per member in the Antwerp Botanical Garden. This plantation was confiscated by the police later that day. In the following courtcase we were acquitted in April 2007 of the accusation of “criminal organisation” and finally in June 2008, by the Court of Appeal, also of the accusation of “cannabis cultivation”. The Court found that the facts could not be considered a crime, but an offense, and too much time had passed since the offense was committed.
On 3 May 2008, the three board members of Trekt Uw Plant each planted a seed for their personal cannabisplant. Also this “plantation” was directly confiscated by the police, and the three board members as well as a bystander were arrested. On Friday 9 January, we have to appear before the judge on the accusation of “apology to drug use”.
The aim of Trekt Uw Plant is to promote the methods for cultivating and consuming cannabis that cause as less damage as possible for public health. By carrying out in practice and in public the ministerial guideline that was signed in January 2005 by the Minister of Justice and 5 chief prosecutors, we wish to inform the Belgian cannabis consumers on the possibilities that this guideline presents them. By facilitating our members to grow cannabis for personal use we contribute to the fight against criminality, drug tourism, social nuisance and public health risks.
Legal regulation of the cultivation of cannabis for personal use will lead to a healthier use of cannabis. Adulteration of cannabis with other substances to make the product heavier, a typical practice of the illegal market, will no longer occur. Besides, if consumers can grow their cannabis by themselves or in association, the price will considerably be reduced and smoking or vaporising pure cannabis (without mixing it with tobacco) will become an option.
As far as we know nobody ever issued a complaint against us because of the fact that he or she would have been encouraged by us to use cannabis. This courtcase seems more to be politically motivated. Apparently, the Antwerp legal authorities are aiming to stop us no matter how.
In fact, freedom of speech is the real issue at stake here. Because of the fact that it is impossible to condemn us in the heart of the matter (cannabis cultivation for personal use) the Antwerp legal authorities now try to silence us in this way.
According to this principle every journalist, scientist or politician who talks about cannabis and refers to the ministerial guideline can be brought to court.
We will do everything to avoid that.
In today’s courtcase the district attorney has tried to prove – referring to the general objective and the activities of Trekt Uw Plant and not to a determined concrete fact – that we are encouraging others to use drugs. She then proposed the following sanctions:
For the 4 members who were arrested during the manifestation of 3 may 2008: between 60 and 80 hours “work punishment – a kind of alternative to jail – or between 6 and 8 months prison, and 1.000 euro fine.
For the association: 1.500 euro fine and dissolution.
Our lawyer has then tried to explain that through our activities, we precisely wish to call for a more responsible use of cannabis, that if we would be condemned, this should also be the case with the politicians who in 2003 approved a change in the law with which possession of cannabis for personal use would no longer be a crime but an administrative offense..
The judge will sentence on 6 February…
We maintain you informed
On behalf of Trekt Uw Plant
Philippe De Craene, Kris Verdonck and Joep Oomen
Lange Lozanastraat 14
Tel. +32 3 293 0886 / +32 495 122 644 (Joep) / +32 494 807 350 (Philippe) / +32 486 – 357595 (Kris)