ENCOD was invited to the fourth session of the Civil Society Forum on EU Drug Policy that will be held on December 13th and 14th 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. The agenda of this meeting was prepared at the meeting of the core group to take place on 8 November 2010
Read also the report on the last CSF produced by ENCOD, UNAD and INPUD.
Encods contribution to the agenda of this session was the proposal to discuss alternatives to drug prohibition
Report of Civil Society Forum meeting, 13 – 14 December 2010
There were 26 persons from 22 organizations, plus 13 persons from the EC (not all simultaneously). Only Correlation, EFUS (European Forum for Urban Safety), ENCOD and IREFREA had more than one representative.
Encod was represented by Marisa Felicissimo and Frederik Polak, while Pedro Quesada was representing UNAD.
Between the plenary sessions at the beginning and end of the meeting, there were four working groups. The subjects were as follows:
A: From prohibition to regulation, options for alternative policies, evidence based policy.
B: New drugs/legal highs; trends in drug use.
C: Empowerment/civil society involvement at national and EU level.
D: Prevention, treatment/recovery, harm reduction.
A more complete report of the meeting will still be produced by the core group secretariat. This report covers what was at stake for ENCOD.
Working group A: I presented a short summary of the ENCOD Bulletin of September “Time to Discuss the Alternatives”, including the passage saying that refusal to discuss alternative policies in the present situation is dereliction of duty and negligence, even criminal negligence.
I stressed that it is important that the study on alternative policies that we demand, must be started with the question of how this complex issue should best be discussed, to make certain that the necessary conclusions can be drawn. Which are the fields of knowledge that we’ll have to address? What are the decisive arguments? What should be the structure of the debate?
The outcome of working group A was that this issue, variably titled “From Prohibition to Regulation” or “Alternative Drug Control Systems”, has been accepted for further study.
The working group consisted of circa 14 persons. They had some questions and a lot of comments, but there was no fundamental resistance to our proposal.
It should be mentioned that our most outspoken opponent (Anders Ulstein of Eurad, Europe Against Drugs) was not present, because he attended the simultaneous working group B on “New drugs/legal highs; trends in drug use”.
In workshops B, C and D little new or important came up, as far as I heard myself and from others.
As to the other issues that are most important for ENCOD:
The selection process for the CSF: the existing rules will remain in force, because they have been formally accepted by the EC for the representation of civil society in other fields.
Our proposal for a larger, more open conference to improve the representation of civil society: there is too little support for this idea.
At the last plenary, the issue “From Prohibition to Regulation” came up again, when we discussed the organization of the next CSF.
Amador Calafat (IREFREA) was hesitating and Anders Ulstein was opposed, but even Ulstein accepted my explanation that this is not about a simple call for full legalization. It is a proposal to seriously study this subject. This means that the opinions of those CSF-members who want to continue prohibition and who, like Ulstein, expect to improve the results of the existing system by methods such as diversion (for instance by installing special drug courts) and probation, will also be discussed.
At this point the question came up who should write the draft for the text on this issue that the CSF will discuss in the next meeting (that will probably take place in April ’11), so that it can be included in the paper that the CSF will submit to the EC as our contribution to the next EU drugs strategy. Somebody mentioned my name. Nobody objected, and it seemed best for me to accept this.
For the rest, we talked mainly about planning. For the next CSF, one or two experts can be invited to present the scientific evidence that should help us to make up our minds. Experts must be invited as quickly as possible, if we want them to be able to come to a meeting in April 2010.
An interesting thing happened shortly before the end. Timo Jetsu (EC) spoke about the “Drugs Coordination Unit”. I asked why this name has been changed to Anti-drugs Unit. I said that we, legalizers, were often accused of being too ideological, but that the name Anti-drugs Unit was clearly ideological, in contrast to the name that Timo used earlier.
His answer was that the official name has been Anti-drugs unit for a long time, and that this was only changed to Drugs Coordination Unit unofficially.
The most important news is that the CSF decided to discuss the subject of Alternative Drug Control Systems in the next meeting (that will probably take place in April 2011) on the basis of a draft that I will prepare.
There is no guarantee that this issue will be included in the CSF-submission to the EC for the CSF-contribution to the new EU Drugs Strategy.
There is little chance that discussion of my draft at the next CSF meeting will lead to consensus, but I think that there is a fair chance that a final text will be supported by a majority of CSF-members. In that case it seems probable to me that the EC will include this issue.
The Steering Committee is working on an appproach that combines continuing our activities both outside and within the beaurocratic system. This means that we will apply for continuation of our work in the CSF. That appplication needs to be sent in early in January 2011.
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