Platform of citizens affected by the closure of Pannagh
Hika Ateneo, Bilbao,
26 november 2011
This morning, about 70 people from the Platform of citizens affected by the closure of the association Pannagh have offered a press conference, of whom 30 have not dared to appear in the images, for various reasons related to the continuous social stigma about cannabis. Another large group has submitted their written commitment. It was expected that the press conference would be offered by the association Pannagh itself, but due to the suspension of activities of the association by the Court of Instruction No. 1 of Bilbao this was impossible. In addition, the Bilbao City Council denied a last minute to use a room that was set aside for it, forcing a change of venue.
Martín Alonso Barriuso, member nr. 1 and Pannaghs president and the main accused in the case, began by thanking the support received during the last two weeks by individuals and organizations from many countries. Also he reported that Kultur Elkartea Gorripidea has opened an account with the number 3035-0104-27-1040051014, where you can make donations to pay 15,000 euros bail imposed by the court and to finance the expenditures arising from the defense, since the association was left without any money.
Then Mikel Isasi, Member n ° 71 of Pannagh, explained that these same days the 50th anniversary takes place of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the main foundation of the current prohibitionist drug policies, whose failure is being confirmed by several instances, including the European Union itself, in its recent report Reuters-Trautman, which states that current drug policies cause more damage than they avoid.
Faced with this failure, our organization seeks to promote the model of so-called Cannabis Social Club, a cannabis regulation proposal we are presenting with great success in all kinds of forums. Isasi explained that during the days of detention, the president of Pannagh was invited to speak at a world conference on drug policy in the House of Lords, before an audience that included several heads and former heads of state, a good test of the international activities of our social movement, which the trial court intended to overlook presenting us as traffickers.
Pedro Luis Gomez Barrondo, member 120, referred to the helplessness that was caused by the police operation and the subsequent judicial intervention that, by way of interim measures, condemned Pannagh to die de facto before there even is an evidence of crime. Gomez referred then to the advantages of our system of production and distribution of cannabis in a closed circuit of adults (the youngest member is 23 years old), non-profit that allows us to avoid the black market risks and Incidentally, create jobs and generate taxes and contributions. He also explained that Pannagh helped to get cannabis to treat his fibromyalgia and this meant great support to him and other members of our collective.
The economic aspect was referred to by José Antonio Tabernilla, member # 2 of Pannagh, who explained that the fact that we had some 108,000 euros in an account on behalf of the associations is the best proof that no one is after the money because in this case it would be hidden and not in a book of “savings” at sight. On the other hand, if we divide some 100,000 euros by 300 members , this gives us about 300 euros per person member, a contribution far below than what is done in a multitude of associations and nonprofit entities above suspition. Tabernilla explained that, at the time of legal closure, the association had 5 people on staff and that the harvest this year had involved about 50 people, causing great deal of expense, to which must be added the rent, telephone, travel, etc..
Since its founding, Pannagh gives direct employment to 13 people with employment contracts and social security contributions. So far in 2011, Pannagh paid some 12,000 € to Social Security and the year 2010 paid about 10,000 € in respect of corporation tax, plus VAT returns. In fact, certification has Pannagh Positive Hacienda Foral de Bizkaia, which have very few certified companies and organizations in our territory and that means not just that we are up to date with our debt obligations, but at no time in our history have we ceased to be. In other words, we have the Q for Quality in tax, which gives an idea of the rigor of our work.
Txelu Manrique, member No 675, explained that the termination of the supply of cannabis by Pannagh forced him to enter four days in the hospital where he was given drugs that have failed to eliminate his pain and vomiting. He declared that the marijuana that was seized was his property and that of the other members, with an urgent need for health reasons and he has asked it to be returned, as happened after the police intervention in 2005, but with two years delay. He also explained that much of the marijuana is used for therapeutic preparations such as dyes or rubbing alcohol, made by the members of the association and in many cases can not be consumed as a drug, being for external use. Municipal police refused to seize not to alter the image of dealers.
Jairo Perez, member n ° 612, has stated that he is a member who uses recreationally who entered into Pannagh through a friend to avoid the risks of the black market, which has allowed him to know the quality of what he consumes and that the police intervention and subsequent closure has forced him, like many other members to buy again on the black market, where the lack of quality is the dominant note. Also the money goes into the hands of criminal networks, which the police and the judge, rather than weaken the black market, now have empowered.
Then Martin Barriuso returned to intervene to explain how the system works. Pannagh grows on small plots leased to young farmers, members of Pannagh, who are indicated with signs and in whose grounds the association grows its own plants. These farmers, using organic techniques, are responsible for the care of plants, with the participation of others in the association, and they receive payment by invoice that includes hours and rental of facilities and equipment. These farmers (grouped in 12 farms) obtain a supplemental income to help them survive in an especially hard time for agriculture. It is not a sale but a partnership where the work is paid, and so are taxes in the entire process, no one is living in this exclusive. Most of the blocked money in the account was to pay for labor and rents this year and now these people will be without pay.
Then Barriuso explained the operation of the Municipal Police, which he described as illegal, unnecessary and disproportionate. Illegal because, among other irregularities, the local police agreed to enter with deception and without a warrant. Unnecessary because it has become known after the botched drug research group could have been accomplished simply by a subpoena to testify and request the relevant documentation as Pannagh paid through the bank all bills and contracts and all that matter. An excessive and disproportionate amount of resources was deployed with an example that one of the 10 days of surveillance and monitoring, there were no fewer than nine players and at least four vehicles dedicated exclusively to follow Barriuso, while on Tuesday November 15 , for example, to cover the Zorroza districts, and Indautxu Rekalde there was only one patrol car with two officers.
Moreover, Barriuso has denounced this excessive intervention comes after years in which our activities have been clearly consensual. There have been many times to stop our activities and this has not been done. For starters, Pannagh is entered in the Register of Associations of the Basque Government in praise of statutes which make clear that one of the aims of the association is the creation of a crop of cannabis for distribution to members and another is the creation of a private space for consumption. Secondly, we have filed complaints of theft to the Ertzaintza on five occasions, in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and there have been players in the cultures and samples were taken from plants. Also the location of various crops was reported in writing to the Ertzaintza .
Besides the above, Pannagh unveiled in a number of ways the nature of their activities. It is worth noting the recent monograph on cannabis forum organized by the Ararteko, where the president gave detailed explanations on Pannagh in the presence of the Prosecutor of the Basque Country and the chief prosecutors of Gipuzkoa and Álava, which suggest the absence of secrecy. In fact, we were waiting for a visit to the local Prosecutor to the association, where he was to learn about our operation firsthand.
Pannagh also explained that the conviction does fall within the law and we have acted in good faith. Apart from various law reports (including one from the Department of the Interior of the Basque Government) in which it is said that our activities are legal, we have a favorable judicial precedent. Indeed, in 2005 we suffered a similar intervention of the local police in Bilbao, who claimed then that it had seized 150 kg of cannabis, almost double than now, and yet, the case was filed by the Provincial Court and the marijuana was returned. In addition, Barriuso was charged in 1997 as president of the association Kalamudia, with about 200 kg of marijuana, and the case was also filed with the express permission of the court for the harvest.
The president still has explained that he is not the owner of the association, but an elected official who can be removed at any time and must obey the commands of the general assembly. Upon closing the premises and prohibiting the activities, the judge is prejudging the case and assuming that this is not a collective community life, but a particular business. In fact, it feels as if he prevents us to defend ourselves.
Barriuso has also clarified that he is not enriched by the work in Pannagh, as recognized by the judge who ordered his release on bail, which states in its order that there is no flight risk, given that the accused official voluntarily leave the City of Bilbao and the association needs to work to survive and that the salary charged to this and his possessions (a 14 years old car intervened by the court , a foreclosed home for 18 years and valued at about 100,000 euros, and a 2,000 euro that he had to spend on bail) “are expected to have no financial means to leave Spain”
He also explained that the way to work is by no way that of traffickers. He informed that registers were made – and reported to police and prosecutor – on the location of the crops, on the money in the bank, how the association pays its bills, workers are discharged from social security, a security store pay is used with a savings account “view” and our identification marijuana carries a seal, which includes our registration number. That is, we use all facilities to locate and intervene. Therefore, it has been easier to cripple our activities. Can you imagine a drug dealer making photocopies of their ID card in each pack of drugs?
Judicial intervention leaves 5 people unemployed, and 327 members, of whom 157 with therapeutic indication, cut-off. Barriuso has also stated that his personal situation is unfortunate: he has no job, no car, no money, no phone or agenda, without a computer, and even without house keys and no documentation of his mother. In fact, he considered to have been convicted without trial.
Pannaghs President has complained that the police and the courts have caused various forms of damage, and have spent an absurd amount of public money in pursuing Pannagh, an association that made positive contributions to society, including the creation of jobs, the reduction of the illicit drug market, assisting patients who lack proper care and payment of taxes and social security so important in times of crisis. But asked Barriuso, who have been wronged, where are our victims? He also complained that they have been given the same treatment as murderers because they have distributed a medicinal plant in private and nonprofit.
Finally Barriuso has expressed pride in his work, the association president and the contribution being made and always deferred to the necessary debate on drug policy.
Platform for People Affected by the closure of Pannagh
Press +34 676681363
Martín Barriuso +34 670996335