THE ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
The German Health Ministry has been forced, by a verdict in the Federal Administrative Court, to allow a patient in Mannheim to cultivate up to 130 cannabis plants a year, in order to guarantee their access to therapy. This special permit is valid only while his therapy costs can’t be accounted for.
Other patients are pressing for the same right in Germany, in Europe, as in the United States the struggle of the patients continues the world over. The Salzburg case, where the trial for cannabis cultivation versus Wilhelm Wallner of the Cannabis Social Club demonstrates how Austria is also an advanced part of the front, in the struggle for “freedom to farm” which Encod and anti-prohibitionists all over Europe support.
Even in Italy there are associations and patients collectives that fight to improve their situation. In Rome a cannabis café has been opened by patients as a meeting point for patients.
But there are also many isolated and easily criminalised cases like the musician of Chieti Fabrizio Pellegrini, a patient with fibromyalgia, who has cultivated cannabis for over ten years and who gets regularly arrested. His picture as dangerous drug dealer has been making headlines by an alliance of journalists, judges and police forces that don’t have anything better to do.
But his situation also represents a therapeutical nightmare even though Italy has been, among the first countries to legalise medical cannabis, even making it free of charge. But not for Fabrizio who is not allowed cultivate his medicine, even though he had requested his free right to do so, according to the constitution. In 2011 he received the first refusal by the local health authorities, whose manager declared he did not to want “to take the economical onus of the requested medicine”. Penniless Pellegrini was condemned to grow his medicine and has recently been sentenced.
On the 2nd of August 2016, after being remanded in custody for 55 days, he has been subjected to the provisional measure of house-arrest. On the 8th of August he has asked for the medicine.
On 29th August he was checked-up by the doctor who on the 20th September submitted the formal request for the “import of narcotic pharmaceutical, drugs not registered in Italy” but, for incompressible reasons, the doctor taking care of the request did not register it at the local pharmacy, instead just gave a copy to the patient! The latter, being under house-arrest, delegated his sister, but she was denied the request for unknown “reasons”.
On the 21st of September his lawyer, having heard the surreal news of the refusal of the medical certification from the local health authority and subsequent of the arbitrary “prevention” of the import procedure, has deposited the request by “recorded delivery” with a copy also to the Health Ministry.
“An answer from the responsible Local Health Authority, has still not yet been received. On the 4th October 2016 the Region Abruzzo has announced on its official website that it has published a local decree… that regulates the modes of distribution and reimbursement of drugs and the preparations of cannabinoids based therapeutical means… In the document it specifies that these types of medicines can be prescribed (and accordingly reimbursed by the Regional Health System)” in cases where “reduction in chronic pain is observed… with the exclusion of pain caused by Fibromyalgia, for patients resisting conventional treatments”.
Fabrizio Pellegrini has learned therefore that the chance of reimbursement for his expensive cannabis drugs has been expressly forbidden for Fibromyalgia pain therapy, exactly the severe pathology he is suffering from.
Another coincidence? His lawyer talks about “an obnoxious procedure, that violates clearly the regional law, whose application ground has been modified in absolute lack of power i.e, from a non-authorised authority able to change the regional law”.
To understand how seriously the original law has been violated, lawyer Di Nanna said “It is enough to underline the title of the local decree, “decree contra pellegrinum”, from the latin “decree contra personam”, to see that the commissary uses a concept that contradicts the intention of the regional law.
Reading this clearly written text should be enough to understand that the regional Lawmaker wanted to establish a principle of medical freedom, not subject to limitations. It foresees letting the local health agencies handle the distribution of these new medicines as well as its costs. This obviously wasn’t intended to be limited to a number of pathologies.
In this completely absurd situation, the Director of the Central Narcotic Office at the Health Ministry, on the 11th of October, denounced that until today, no import request of cannabis products has reached the local health agency of Chieti.
Many mysteries but one certainty: to the accused, any cure was denied in a clear violation of the Constitution and of the same Regional Law whose application, has been arbitrarily modified with a provision, signed by the President of the Region. Without any mention of the United Nations, that keep on saying that the Conventions are needed to guarantee access to essential controlled drugs.
The struggle continues. Without cannabis, no justice and not only for Fabrizio Pellegrini.
by Enrico Fletzer
News from secretariat:
A discussion in progress: The future of the anti-prohibitionist movement
After UNGASS 2016 the NGO’s operating on drug policy reform are interrogating themselves about the future of the movement. Especially in Europe, since the formation myth of the European Union that came along with the inception of the Lisbon European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Dependence Emcdda. And Encod, also around 1993 was based on the foundation of a political and social Europe that from the cuisine up, to the drug policies should have had the task to be superior to the barbary, then worked out in the United States.
The dream has fallen apart but it is up to the political Europe, to the social movements to pick up this flag. Also for that reason we are working to meet in Berlin for an Encod General Assembly with a brain-storming session open to the social movements to work out a European strategy that is open to consultation and suggestions.
In this Encod has been always very peculiar. Radical but not closed or exclusive. An open coordination that prefers autonomy and self-empowerment but also capable to pass through the institutions.
For us the question remains the same: who will change the world? The ones that don’t like it.