ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
NR. 46 DECEMBER 2008
FRESH AIR IN MOVEMENT
Something is going on. A refreshing breeze is cleansing the dusty
atmosphere of the debate on drugs. They say that periods of crisis
stimulate the earth to elaborate new forms of social organisation… or to
refresh the organisation of forms that were invisible during centuries. Are we
passing from protest to proposal? Definitively yes.
From 21 to 23 November the workshop on “Drugs and Diplomacy” took place
in Murguía, Basque Country, on the subject of the participation of
organisations of drug users in the debate on drug policies. This
workshop, under the leadership of Xabier Arana of Ekimen, an association
of prestigious researchers from the Basque Country, forms part of a
study on this issue that ENCOD is carrying out with the support of the
Drugs Policy Department of the Basque Country. 24 representatives of 17
different organisations and networks such as GANJAZZ, LA REGADERA, AI
LAKET, PANNANGH, COMISIÓN CIUDADANA ANTISIDA DE ÁLAVA, GANJAZZ ART CLUB, PAOTXA, INPUD, LCA, PIC, MDHG, AKZEPT, FAC, FAUDAS, FEDERACIÓN ENLACE and ENERGY CONTROL, met together in an idyllic place to analyse the weaknesses and strengths of user organisations to intervene in the design and application of drug policies, as well as the threats and
opportunities that we can be confronted with when doing this. The report,
with the conclusions of the research, as well as a videoreport will be presented in the coming months.
Apart from analysing in a very transparent way the situation of the
movements for drug policy reform and the strategies to improve our
effectiveness, we elaborated in Murguía concrete recommendations for the
coming drugs plan of the Basque government and an alternative drugs
action plan for the European Union that should replace the current draft
elaborated by the European Commission. The recommendations of the Basque
Government will be presented in a report at a meeting that will be
organised for this purpose, and the alternative action plan will be
presented during the coming Civil Society Forum on Drug Policies in the EU.
The workshop in Murguía represents a qualitative improvement in the
movement for drug policy reform. On one hand, it is a historic
moment for the social movements, especially for those that are formed by
people at the grass roots level: we are passing from protest to proposal, and not a theoretical one, but a proposal that has materialised through a process of profound common reflection. On the other hand, the fact that we enjoyed such amenities as simultaneous translation, a comfortable room for the meeting etc., has facilitated the work in large degree.
We are also starting to see that the global objective is transcending local problems (egos, protagonisms, internal struggles, etc.) and global
problems as well (sacred and stigmatised substances, urgency versus importance etc.). We are seeing the emergence of a commonly agreed project that becomes more and more clear and necessary.
Although this objective has always been present in the outlook of
ENCOD, a coalition that has grown from 20 organisations in 1994 to 150 in 26
different countries today, in Murguía we have been able to conclude that we
are all ENCOD, that we all have something to contribute to ENCOD, that
there is a true feeling of belonging to the network and collaborating
with each other. Something that is obvious but important to remember
once in a while.
All this would not have been possible without the concrete help of two
persons: Iker Val (of Ganjazz Art Club) and Iker Giraldo Cuadrado (La
Regadera), who assumed the idea that was launched in the assembly and
have proved able to convert this idea in reality in just 4 months.
The synergies are also coming together in the world of the Cannabis
Social Clubs. during the past months the Federation of Cannabis
Associations in Spain is working on a consensus document with
recommendations on how to create a cannabis consumers club that would
dispose of the most fundamental norms (statutes, rules for registering
an association, etc.) as well as broader issues such as legal
resolutions that are currently in place. This was the first step towards
the elaboration of a second document that will be directed at the
Spanish government with recommendations on how to regulate the clubs.
The third step will be the internal reglementation for the functioning
of the clubs, which will facilitate common standards of operation for
all associated clubs.
This is not an isolated process, it takes place at a moment when
from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean lines are thrown to us in order
to maintain the link to the other extreme end of a chain that is more
and more diffuse (consumers become growers and in producing countries,
growers have been consuming traditionally since remote times). ENCOD is
on the brink of signing an agreement with coca grower organisations in
Bolivia which will promote initiatives of coca grower communities to
obtain economic self-sufficiency in a framework of integrated and
sustainable development, legal commercialisation channels for the
traditional derivates of the coca leaf will be explored and acts of
citizens’ diplomacy will be organised to propose the international
depenalization of the coca leaf for international organizations.
For these projects, in early March we will organise a conference in the European
Parliament, in collaboration with MEPs, on the issue of the
revalorisation of the coca leaf through the legal commercialisation of
its derivates in Europe.
We hope to count on the presence of representatives of coca grower
organisations in order to present publicly the agreement, which we hope
will be signed before that date.
Just as the twinkling of the wings of a butterfly can produce a
hurricane, we hope that this fresh air in movement will cross the
physical and ideological frontiers and obtain the necessary force that might
break the wall of prohibition.
By: Virginia Montañés Sánchez (with the help of Peter Webster)
Thanks to José Afuera Gómez, of FAC, for the information on cannabis
social clubs in Spain.