Spain: No legal trial against cannabis consumers’ association
Definitively closed: the case against the collective marijuana plantation of Pannagh
Pannagh now claims the return of confiscated plants and denounces the disproportionate detention of its members.
The cannabis consumers club concept is starting in several European countries and will soon be officially presented in the European Parliament.
2 August 2006, Federación de Asociaciones Cañabicas, Spain
Section 6 of the Provincial Court( Audiencia Provincial) of Bizkaia (Basque Country, Spain), on 14 March 2006, decided to close the case against three members of the association Pannagh and the owner of the field which this association had hired. These persons had been detained on 3 October 2005 during the harvest of these plants that the association has grown for the personal use of its members. The closure of the case is now definitive, as the attorney has not presented any appeal against the decision.
1. The legal trial
The Provincial Court has sentenced that there is no indication for any crime, as this plantation fulfills the requirements set by the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court in order to be considered as ‘shared use’, in other words, the previous condition of the participants, the closed circuit model that avoids the entrance of third persons and the absence of commercial purposes. Besides, the Court considers the fact that Pannagh is a legally constituted association excludes the clandestinity that is supposed to belong to a criminal organisation dedicated to illicit drugs trafficking.
The facts go back to 3 October 2005, when the Municipal Police of Bilbao, after having detected our plantation in connection with an investigation into presumed drugs trafficking, ordered an intervention to seize all plants and to detain the the people harvesting on the terrain. The seized plants amounted to a weight of 150 kg bruto.
After the case was dismissed the plants remained at the disposition of the court. Apparently, they were dried and non-psicoactive parts were removed, as when they were submitted to the analysis of the Governmental laboratory of Bizkaia, their weight had been reduced to 17,400 kg.
Pannaghs defense had requested the closure of the case, alleging that the plants had been destinated for the consumption of the members of the association and not the illicit trade. The attorney refused to close the case, although he recognised that the destination of the marihuana had effectively been social consumption and accepted to drop the charge of illicit trafficking which had been part of the accusation in the beginning.
2. What to learn from this case
Pannagh wants to express its satisfaction with the decision of the Provincial Court, whereas, as we said from the beginning, our activities are legal and directed only towards the necessities of our members. In the framework of current drug policies, it is perfectly possible to create a closed circuit without commercial purposes in order to be able to dispose of cannabis (or other psychoactive plants or substances).
We denounce the disproportionate character of the measures that were taken against us. It is absurd to detain people who are perfectly identifiable and whose activities are public. It would have been enough to send us an invitation in order to receive our declarations. Neither do we understand the seizure of plants without previously having considered if there was a criminal offence.
We claim the return of the seized plants. If our activities were legal, their product must be so as well. In its sentence, the Court recognises the medicinal use that would have been made with the seized plants, so it is incomprehensible that ill people cannot obtain a plant that is useful to reduce their pains. For those who were not using for medicinal purposes, the paradoxical result has been that they are now obliged to supply themselves on the illegal market.
3. Legal security for cultivation
Pannagh exceeds once again the end of legal insecurity with regards to cultivation for own use. It is absurd to see hundreds of detentions and cases against small growers which then end up closed. This situation increases the arbitrariety and violates the rights of those who grow for own use in order not to depend on the illegal market.
Therefore, the Italian member of European parliament Giusto Catania, member of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, author of the the report on EU drug policies in december 2004, presented a written question to the European Commission concerning Pannagh.
Catania asked the Commission if it did not consist an incoherence, apart from an attack to various rights that are recognised by European legislation, that in a nation where personal use of drugs is depenalised, and where a legal association of consumers can be formed, legal action can be taken against this association for growing for personal use.
The reply of the Commission to Catania was very clear: the European Union does not have any competence on the regulation of activities related to posession and consumption. The Member States are abliged by the UN and EU legislation to persecute everything that has to do with commercial distribution of illicit drugs. But this obligation disappears in the case of cultivation for own use, as this, according to Commisioner Frattini, is not covered by the Framework Decision of the Council. Cultivation of cannabis for personal use is defined by national laws.
The Spanish Government is therefore competent to regulate the cultivation for own use like is the case of other EU Member States, determining the amount of plants that each person may possess for own use.
4. The Cannabis Social Club to the European Parliament
The collective cultivation of Pannagh is no isolated case. More or less concrete initiative using various legal models are coming off the ground in the whole of Europe. In the Basque Country there are 5 associations, in the rest of the Spain many more are on the way, as also in Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germazny, Poland and Chech republic. At least several groups have expressed their willingness to start up soon.
After the closure of the case of Pannagh, ENCOD (Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies), formed by 145 member organisations from more than 20 European countries, has decided to start unifiying the various models into what could be called the Cannabis Social Club, in order to present it to the European Parliament in the coming month of November, in connection with a symposium that ENCOD will organise in the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels.
ENCOD, whose campaign ‘Freedom to Farm’ has been going on for quite a while, proposes that the situation of cultivation of cannabis and other substances for own use, following a closed circuit and without commercial purposes, will become clear across the entire European Union, in order to find an alternative to the current black market.
Also the Spanish Federación de Asociaciones Cannábicas is currently debating a model to regulate the cultivation of cannabis in closed circuits, in order to present it to the Spanish Government and Parliament.
Bilbao, 2 August 2006
Asociación de Usuarios/as de Cannabis Pannagh
Contacto: Martín Barriuso
Tel. + 34 670996335