‘De facto’ acquittance in trial against association of cannabis producers in Belgium
25 april 2007
Today the local court of Antwerpen, Belgium (Correctionele Rechtbank) issued a verdict in the case against Trekt Uw Plant vzw. This association has the intention of organising the cultivation of cannabis, meant for the personal consumption of her adult members, in a collective way. Trekt Uw Plant bases itself on the the Royal Decree of 2003 and the Ministerial Guideline of January 2005, signed by the Belgian Minister of Justice and all 5 General Prosectors. According to this guideline the possession of max. 3 grammes cannabis en 1 cannabisplant by adults will not be prosecuted anymore, if there are no aggravating circumstances.
The judge has sentenced that Trekt Uw Plant is not a criminal organisation. The request of the prosecutor to suspend the association was therefore denied. This means explicitly that there were no aggravating circumstances in this case, which were invoked by prosecutor Lins to accuse us.
The judge has also sentences that the cultivation of cannabis is always illegal, and that the ministerial guideline does not have to be followed. She concludes that complete accquittance is impossible: of the 5 accused members, 3 members do not receive any sanctions, and 2 will receive a fine of 15 euro each. This sanction is minimal in comparison with the jail term of max. 5 years which we had been informally warned for by a representative of the Antwerp prosecuter office in October 2006.
The judge has sentenced that cultivating cannabis is punishable en no lack of clarity exists in the legislation. She refers to the contradictory communication by politicians and media as the cause for confusion amongst individual citizens concerning the status of this guideline and therefore of the cultivation of cannabis as a whole.
Trekt Uw Plant did not base itself on communications from politicians or media. We have strictly accomplished the regulation stated by the Royal Decree of 2003 and the subsequent Ministerial Guideline of 2005 that replaces the text on cannabis from the RD agter this text was eliminated by a sentence of the Arbitrary Court in 2004.
At each step, we have done everything to remain within the framework of the law. Every detail was considered extremely carefully. And besides, we asked and obtained permission for the establishment of the plantation from the local Antwerp authorities following positive recommendation of the Antwerp police.
This senntence denies the political decision to stop persecuting possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption. This decision has been taken after 8 years of political decisions and debate in society. This is a political sentence, which obliges political decision makers to take a stand.
VZW Trekt Uw Plant is a legal association. Our initiative can now be repeated in the whole country. We are satisfied with the fact that our name has been cleared: But we do not agree with the interpretation of the legislation on cannabis cultivation. We will therefore go into appeal. The fact that we need to provoke this court case means that the legal status of cannabis cultivation for personal consumption is not clear enough. We call on the politicians to start working out a definitive regulation after the elections on 10 June.
TREKT UW PLANT continues. We are ready for a long term struggle to obtain our right. We call upon all people who agree with us to become a member or support us in other ways.
On Saturday 5 May we will organise a Global Marijuana March, on the Vrijdagmarkt in
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