ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
NR. 49 MARCH 2009
The Drug Business Does Well, In Spite Of The Crisis
The economic crisis is getting worse and worse. More drugs are consumed as a consequence. In addition, more and more people are unemployed and try their luck with illegal businesses.
It is a virtual natural law that in times of crisis people are consuming more drugs and are partying more. It is the same for the ineffectiveness of repression and interdiction by the authorities. A beautiful example is Al Capone’s Chicago.
But there is an other side of this medal: because there are almost no new legal jobs or markets for produced goods many people are pushed into illegal activities. So, automatically more drugs are produced, transported and sold. The minor people will be hunted and the mafia bosses will collect the huge benefits. At the same time the forces of law and order will be rearmed and even more tax money will be wasted.
Waste of Money
Encod has always had a clear position against the war against drugs. How stupid the war is can also be measured by the money spent for it.. A study made by Dr. Jeffrey Miron, guest professor at Harvard Universitiy, shows the following: Just for the fight against marihuana the U.S. is spending 7.7 billlion dollars per year, money that could be used in a much better way. If lost taxes were also considered, collected similar to alcohol or tobacco taxes, then another 6,2 billion dollars are wasted. It is clear that projects could be supported with the 14 billion dollars which would make much more sense. This abuse has brought 530 US economists, amongst them three Nobel Prize winners such as Milton Friedman to sign an open letter to the US government to demand an end to marihuana prohibition (http://www.prohibitioncosts.org/). A similar sum is also wasted in Europe.
On the other hand these huge amounts are absolutely insufficient: the new annual report of the INCB says that there is not enough spending for drug prevention. All these bureaucrats have to be fed. At the same time they are seemingly unaware that poverty and need are the main engines in the drug business and that not enough people can cure their pains http://www.incb.org/incb/en/annual-report-2008.html.
Need Leads to Creativity
Some first consequences of the economic crisis can be observed in the european hemp scene: Many people are trying to get a side job again, as planters or as dealers. The supplies are better, the choice is bigger. All this is happening despite, or even because of, the constant campaign against all drugs, illegal or (still) legal ones, like tobacco, alcohol etc. At the same time many are starting to produce their personal consumption, in order to save money.
Some of the first reports from Spannabis, held in Barcelona, say that there have been some excellent deals made. Apparently this is going to be the same at the Cannatrade (new in Basel) between the 1st and 3 May and from the 29 to the 31 May in Bologna at the Cannabis Tipo Forte.
For Encod this situation is ambiguos. It is clear that one can be happy about the fact that the war against drugs is getting more and more absurd. The reality, that, because of the crisis, the supplies are getting better and by that more people are getting involved. On the other hand this will cause more repression which will make the minor people suffer even more, as well here in Europe but much more in poorer countries. All this does not correspond at all to the principles of Encod which is to fight for a reasonable consumption of drugs which are produced under fair and legal conditions.
Some other news is showing that there are different ways: the American DEA is apparently not persecuting Cannabis Social Clubs in the states who have legalized such clubs anymore. Is this a new start in Washington’s drug policy? http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/574/attorney_general_holder_no_more_DEA_medical_marijuana_raids
Open Letter to the King of Morocco
Since 17 February Chakib al Khayari is sitting in a prison in Casablanca. The human rights attorney who is engaging himself for the traditional tribal culture in the Rif mountains with its hemp tradition has attacked the corruption of local authorities. He should report these facts in March in Europe as a guest and a delegate of a NGO at several conferences, which appearently shall be averted. You can find an open letter to the Moroccan king who demands the attorney’s liberation. https://www.encod.org/info/LETTER-TO-THE-KING-OF-MOROCCO-ON.html