ENCOD BULLETIN OF DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
IT DEPENDS ON US
Italy is the birthplace of modern fascism and has also been an influence for the political future of Europe on several occasions. After the re-election of the 87-year-old state president Napoletano on April 20th the future that we face now seems incredibly barren. Too many consider this a result of a foul and immoral compromise with Silvio Berlusconi, considered by many as closely connected to the mafia. In the cheering crowd next to the media tycoon we still see on the first ranks Mr. Carlo Maria Giovanardi, the architect of the most stupid and repressive drug legislation of Western Europe.
As a matter of fact the unholy alliance of the Democrat Party and the People of Liberty, as Berlusconis party is called, seems to be keeping alive the old regime based on two thirds of the bicameral system. In the re-election of the state president, the executive has carried out quite an authoritarian manoeuvre. Today’s Italy can hardly be considered a representative democracy any longer. Not only democracy, but also the Democratic Party is under fire.
From this moment, a junta of technocrats under the supervision of the state president and possibly of foreign powers will easily be perceived as an obstacle to what most people want: a real change. In Italy, there is no general opposition like in Greece but a more fragmented front of single citizens. And this opposition of unorganised forces is perceived by the Italian establishment as the greatest danger, since it reminds them of the scattered autonomous movements in the 1970s that were not aiming at rebuilding political parties.
This authoritarian take over is one of the last efforts to stop the democratic movements that accompany the collapse of all political parties, and especially of the Democratic Party, that have betrayed people’s expectations. The next great coalition is perceived by many as the biggest treason and consequently the parliamentary majority may react like a besieged fortress to counter people’s expectations. The cream of Italian politicians is in the castle.
Beppe Grillo and the Ecological Left will hopefully try in the coming days to pick up the pieces of a broken country that was born from armed struggle against fascism and that is once again called to stand up for its rights. The alternative forces of Italy and the anti-prohibitionist groups will in the next months face powerful enemies in their efforts to bring about some positive changes.
These efforts will begin with the press conference of the anti-prohibitionist movement in the Italian Parliament on May 2nd, which is to be considered as an important step to open the debate and the mobilisation for just and democratic drug regulation and cooperation.
The journalist, Franco Arminio, noted that at the election of the state president the enemies did not even need to enter the ring. “The clerical and fascist Italy does not fight openly, it is enough if their interests are guaranteed. If this job is done by a former communist, well so be it. The election of Napolitano, as it has come about, is the darkest page of our history, a celebration of the 25th April (national liberation day) walking ass backwards: from liberation to mummification.”
Concerning drug policies, it will depend on popular pressure if some positive changes will ensue. There have been positive results with some courts ruling on cannabis cultivation in a sense that Italy should follow the EU directives that consider home growing as belonging to the issue of personal use. Italy’s laws have also been criticised at the European level since they have abolished any difference between different substances, and because the substance threshold quantities are considered illegitimate. The country has also been accused of still being unable to introduce the ban on torture inside the implementation of drug laws.
Mr Grillo of the 5 stars movement expressed himself quite clearly about the effects of prohibition policies:
“August is the month of the appeals. After the one in support of protecting the Internet from legal actions, today the new appeal concerns the decriminalisation of soft drugs. Too many people get arrested and don’t come home any more after having smoked a joint, from Aldo Bianzino to Stefano Frapporti. In many countries of Europe marijuana is free. In Italy there is the free circulation of hard drugs and the arrests of poor people for one joint. In Milan the regular cocaine users are estimated to be 150.000. The harbour of Gioia Tauro is the gateway of all sorts of drugs in Europe. In order to resolve the prison overcrowding it would be enough to decriminalise marijuana. In order to get rid of the problem of the strange suicides and sudden collapses in the cell it is enough to decriminalise marijuana. I ask all political forces and movements that want to support this appeal and to show up as soon as possible.”
Grillo is a friend of freethinkers and theoretically along with the Ecological Left and Freedom our Parliament could wipe out very quickly the most terrible relics of the past. But it is impossible to predict through the crystal ball. Much will depend on the reaction of the masses.
To start with the anti-prohibitionists: they have announced three major demonstrations in may, the month of anti-prohibitionist awakening in Italy due to the traditional Million Marijuana March in Rome and of other events. This year the rally will start at the Partisans Square and end at Saint John’s Square. It will be preceded by a press conference held at the Globe Room of the Italian Parliament. The focus will be on the need to foster alternatives to the failed drug policies that have been particularly aggressive in Italy.
This year’s demonstration for cannabis liberation is not only meant to be greater then ever but also to start a political discussion with some political and social forces in order to favour the setup of Cannabis Social Clubs. The three mass demonstrations planned in Rome, Pisa and Naples are meant also to get rid of the infamous drug laws, as is the case of the ongoing signature collection to introduce the crime of torture. Last but not least, for the third time there will be an important demonstration in southern Italy. The Anti-prohibitionist Street Parade of Naples seems to bypass the historical south-north gap in the peninsula.
Cannabis as recreational drug is very popular in Italy despite the current barbaric drug laws in a country where many growers and consumers get in trouble with the justice system. Some have even been killed and tortured for growing a few plants and despite the crowds the prohibitionist faction is still well organized and well financed. But it has also started to attract some special attention by the Italian press. Let there be light on the biased connections of science and prohibition that in Italy resulted in a re-actualisation of the Reefer Madnes films under the form of neuroscience slides.
Some Italian journalists recently revealed the truth about the huge amount of money spent by the Department of Anti-drugs Policies of Italy. Over 50 million euros were wasted in bizarre operations and that, despite the political upheaval, survived three Italian governments and might be confirmed even now in this sort of Jurassic Park.
Prohibition as means of control and terror is still very powerful in our country and the last of the Mohicans are still fighting, sometimes pretending to have a scientific basis that prohibition policies never had. Let there be light on their complicity in the global drug war. Let us stop the pseudoscientific terror and the war against us. It depends on us.
By Enrico Fletzer
NEWS FROM THE SECRETARIAT
In April, Encod celebrated its 20th birthday. We hope to celebrate our 25th in a world where the drug war has ended. To know more about how Encod was born, read the first action plan from 1995.
The coming month Encod will participate in several cannabis related events in Italy, Spain and Greece, promoting the concept of Cannabis Social Clubs and drug policy reform in general, among others as an answer to the crisis in various areas.
On 25 May, Encod members are wellcome at the Cannabis Liberation Day in Antwerpen, Belgium
And finally, every Encod member is warmly invited to attend the General Assembly in Bermeo, Spain, from 21 to 23 June. Please register before 15 may if you wish to be sure you can benefit from the accomodation and travel arrangements.