On the last 13th of September the Belgian Socialist Party brought forth in the House of Representatives a proposal to regulate the home grow and the Cannabis Social Clubs, through the risk prevention vision. It is addressed just to Belgian residents.
Actually, in Belgium the adults can possess three grams or a plant of cannabis. There are around ten CSC’s in Belgium, the first one founded was Trekt Uw Plant, in 2006. They were absolved both times with which they generate the firsts judicial sentences about the CSC’s, the Belgian CSC Model.
The proposal includes the creation of an independent administrative institution: The Cannabis Control Authority (ACC). The ACC would be responsible for the supervision of the implementation of the law, for the monitoring and evaluation, and also for issuing three year licences for CSC’s.
The place for grow for personal use would be just the residence of the user. The number of plants could be shared among the two modalities, personal and collective. So if they will establish, for example, six plants as a limit, each adult could have three plants in a prevision of consumption in a CSC and she / he could grow three plants on his / her own place. For that, they want to create a register of users to keep the control on that, which maybe contradict the right of privacy of the users.
The Cannabis Social Club would need a license. The CSC should respect the proposal conditions to get and conserve this licence:
The CSC is non profit association. They can not take profits from the activity of the CSC, just some employments, to prevent the bad practices associated with a for-profit organisation.
The plants are property of each member or the collectivity. The club just manages and ensures the production and the supplying. Each member makes a signed concession to this arrangement. All these forecast together compose the dimension of the collective cultivation of the CSC.
All the users that want to be member of the CSC should do an interview with a responsible of the CSC so that the association can check the candidates consumption habits and other related questions.
The cultivation, processing, storage, packing, conservation and labeling will be regulated by rules of procedure and protocols to keep the good practices at this point, keeping the rules about hygienic and security conditions. The CSC should respect the rules of the biological agriculture and the cannabis should be checked to evaluate its quality.
The cannabis has to come with a notice including the effects, the possible secondary effects (specially dependency, pregnancy, driving and heavy machinery), the contraindications and a phone number to assistance call at 24h. The packaging for the distribution would be in opaque, resealable and neutral bags and it should contain the percentage of THC and CBD, the symbol for minor, date of expiry, a risk prevention message and the name of the CSC.
CSC’s would use transparency as a control method in the members register, the plants register, the annual accounting, documents of employers and the diary of members distribution.
Yet it is a proposal and all this matters will be discussed in the chamber’s proceedings, but it is more or less the structure of the proposal. Nothing is decided but it is a firm step in the direction of the regulation of cannabis in Belgium specifically for the CSC model and the right to home growing.
Many of the issues yet are not proposed, they would be developed by a royal decree after the law will be approved, if it is the case, matters as the number of plants for self cultivation, the storage for self use and other conditions for the home grow. Also the rules of the composition and management of the CSC, the inspections to this entities, the location and conditions of the crops, the status of grower, etc.
To approximate our vision to the reality in Belgium, first we should understand the two parts of the country, the Flemish part and the French-speaking part, these two are different in tradition and culture and each one have its political parties.
Due to the high fragmentation of the political parties system in Belgium, generally the political parties should agree to arrive at big majorities to approve the laws, also they have vote discipline inside the parties. The Belgian Parliament is a bicameral institution, composed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, this initiative is presented at the House of Representatives by the Socialist Party and it needs to be approved by these two chambers to be effective.
The House of Representatives is composed by 150 deputies, just 23 are from the Socialist Party. The distribution of seats is divided among 13 political parties, among which we can point out the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) with 33 seats (a conservatory party), the Socialist Party (PS) (french speaking) with 23 seats, the Reformist Movement (MR) (liberal – conservative – french speaking party) with 20, Christian Democratic Flemish (CD&V) party with 18 seats, Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats with 14 seats and Socialist Party Differently (SP-a) (Flemish Socialist) with 13 seats. The rest of the seven parties have less than 10 seats in the House of Representatives.
The parties have not positioned yet about the concrete law, but we could deduce from the political tradition of the parties and their last positioning that PS, SP-a, Ecolo,Groen and PTB-GO/PvDA could be in favor (48 seats). On the other side, Cdh, N-VA, VB and CD&V could be against (63 seats). Finally, could be that who will have the approval key for this law will be the MR and the Open VLD, the liberal parties who sum 34 seats at the chamber.
In conclusion, it is still a proposal that has to overcome parliamentary procedures, but at least it is a good step to move the debate on cannabis in Belgium. With more than 100 articles is a proposal developed and prepared with the advice of experts and civil society. It is proposed and signed by the second political force of the Belgian Parliament, in number of seats. So it has many points to be a successful proposal, but we will still have to wait for the decisions of the parties and the development of the process to know if it will finally be approved.
Joep Oomen,1962 -2016, co-founder of ENCOD who created the first CSC in Belgium
By Ana Afuera Gómez
with the collaboration of