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ENCOD NEWS: EU Summit on Drug Policy

 
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Ferre
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.


Joined: 14 Apr 2003
Posts: 2550
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2004 1:08 pm    Post subject: ENCOD NEWS: EU Summit on Drug Policy Reply with quote

Quote:
Next week, on 10 and 11 May, ENCOD will participate in the EU Summit on Drug Policy, "The way forward", in Dublin, Ireland. On this conference, global guidelines for a new 8 year plan of the European Union to tackle the drug issue will be discussed; You can read the ENCOD statement that will be distributed at this conference at

www.encod.org/dublin.htm



As you might know, THC Ministry supports ENCOD
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Ferre
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.


Joined: 14 Apr 2003
Posts: 2550
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 6:59 pm    Post subject: THE HARD WAY FORWARD TO ANOTHER DRUG POLICY Reply with quote

Quote:
THE HARD WAY FORWARD TO ANOTHER DRUG POLICY


The following is a summary of the experiences of a representative of the
European NGO Council on Drug Policy while attending the conference called
“The Way Forward”, on a new European Union strategy on illicit drugs, which
was held in the Hotel Conrad, Dublin, Ireland, on 10 and 11 May, 2004.


My presence at the Conference followed an invitation of the organisers
(Irish government, current EU-presidency together with the Dutch
government, the next EU -presidency) to inform about the position of
European NGO’s working on drugs issues. The result was that some
governments re-acted on this presence as if I had come to open the box of
Pandora…

The audience consisted of about 200 people: mostly civil servants from all
the 25 EU Member States, some from candidate countries Rumania, Bulgaria
and Turkey, some representatives of European Institutions (European
Commission, Europol, European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction
EMCDDA, Council of Europe), some observers from third governments (Norway,
United States) and two NGO representatives (TNI and ENCOD).

The conference was meant to draw the first global guidelines for the next
EU Drug Strategy (2005 - 2012) and Action Plan (2005-2008) which has to be
designed during Autumn of 2004 and finally approved in the springtime of 2005.

I was asked to participate in a plenary panel session on Monday morning,
just after the opening speeches. This panel consisted of four people: one
representative of the UK police, two Irish doctors and me. I was the only
panel member to propose a fundamental change of logic in drug policy, with
which I referred to the need to start creating political ‘room for
manoevre’ for policies that are not based on prohibition. We all had about
6 minutes to speak during the entire panel session.

The panel discussion also contained the screening of a video film in which
8 people were interviewed. They were Tomas Zabranski (Czech expert), Andria
Efthimiou-Mordaunt (UK activist), Mike Trace (UK expert), Ian Oliver (UNDCP
consultant), Jan van der Tas (NL activist), David Liddell (UK harm
reduction), Danny Kushlick (UK activist) and Krzysztof Krajewski (Polish
expert). Every single person interviewed concluded with a call on the
audience to work towards a review of existing policies.

After this the floor was opened to discussions and the first three
governments to re-act (Belgium, Italy and Greece) immediately protested
against my presence. The Belgian government even used the word
“scandalised” to describe their feelings on my presentation and the content
of the video, accusing the organisers to be extremely biased in their
choice of speakers. They also felt scandalised by the fact that ENCOD had
dared to use the EU symbol in our flyer which can be seen at
http://encod.org/encod_lo-res.pdf

This incident influenced the entire conference. In the corridor, a lot of
discussion was going on concerning the fact that our ideas had been allowed
to enter the conference room.

After lunch, in the workshops that followed the plenary session, it was
clear that some governments (especially Sweden, Italy, France and even
Germany) were quite outraged about the fact that the call for change in
drug policies had been at the center of attention in the morning. This
meant that in all the four workshops (Demand Reduction, Law Enforcement,
Information & Evaluation and International Co-operation) several
representatives acted with a high degree of Pavlov: every time the word
harm reduction was mentioned, they would fly up and state that this could
not be the objective of EU drug policy, which still had to be based on
reduction of drug consumption etc.

Meanwhile, several representatives came to me and said that on a personal
title, they agreed with lots of the things we were saying. Especially the
representatives of the new EU Member States were very positive, saying that
they did not agree with the Belgian representative. They said that from own
experience, they knew all too well how ‘civil society’ is treated by
authorities and that the future is ours.

Meanwhile the 100 copies of the statement I had with me (also presented on
www.encod.org/warsaw.htm ) disappeared quite quickly from the information
table. Also I had quite positive talks with delegates of the Irish, Dutch,
Slovenian, Czech, Finnish, Cypriote, Slovak, Bulgarian and Hungarian,
European Commission and Council of Europe delegations and even a
constructive conversation with someone from the Swedish Ministry of
Justice, who also said that he found the drug debate too dogmatic…


THE FIGHT FOR MONEY

What resulted clearly from the conference is that most governments are
aware that in the 1990s, there has been a shift in drug policies from
repression to harm reduction. They are of course aware that this shift has
not been enough to solve the problems, and that a second shift is needed
from harm reduction to legal regulation. But in order to do this, they need
to have the tools to question the current approach within the law
enforcement apparatus. And that is a problem, as the law enforcement lobby
is well established.

In the workshop there was a lot of talking about the need to investigate
and evaluate health related initiatives: prevention, treatment, new health
hazards concerning ATS (Amphetamine Type Stimulants) and cannabis (French
and Germany both highlighted the “increasing health problems of cannabis
consumption), harm reduction initiatives and so on.

The conclusion of these talks was usually that the European Commission
should invest more money, the EC then pointed at the EMCDDA, and the EMCDDA
pointed again at the member states. Conclusion: we want research but others
should pay for it.

This way, the participants escaped the real discussion: about the result of
current policies on drug consumption (according to a Dutch researcher,
there is virtually no impact at all from any kind of policies on drug
consumption), about ways to use each other’s research results (for instance
on heroin distribution in Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Spain) and
about other things that could be applied in order to save money in stead of
investing more etc.

But also, there was virtually no talking at all about the need to evaluate
law enforcement. Here the discussion went more in the direction of
enlarging co-operation between European police forces, supporting Europol,
and designing new action plans to “new threats” such as ATS production and
trafficking. Again this would create the need to use more money (see above).

In personal conversations, one could feel however that even repressive
governments (like Denmark and Sweden) do not have a real response to the
argument that more law enforcement on drugs means more money to organised
crime. They typically respond by saying that we do not have a proposal of
how to do things in a post-prohibition system, and as long as we do not
have answers to many questions on how such a system could function they
will never take us serious…


THE LACK OF DIALOGUE

For someone from civil society, representing a large contingent of tax
payers, it was quite astonishing to see that the participants at the event
were not able to reach any kind of clear consensus on even the most minimal
definitions on what should be considered as ideal outcomes of a new EU drug
strategy. This was perhaps partly because the organisers had been a bit too
ambitious in defining these objectives. Although it is remarkable to see
how a formulation like “Improving the effectiveness and sustainability of
drug prevention aimed at vulnerable young people and by increasing
awareness about drug related risks through the dissemination of reliable
information of high quality among young people in the age of 12 to 25” can
already be considered as "too ambitious".

Mainly, the lack of results can be explained by the reluctance of certain
governments (especially Sweden, Italy, Belgium, France and and
interestingly enough, Germany) to enter in a real discussion. Their goal
seemed mainly to sabotise the debate, to make sure no mention was made that
would open the pandora box…

Of course this left a bitter aftertaste among all participants. In the
closing remarks, Europol and EMCDDA representatives could make a final call
for more money to do law enforcement and research. But the real question is
if there will be room for further dialogue with civil society on the drug
issue, as this dialogue seems to be the only way to close the box of
pandora, that is: to obtain a real view on the harms of drug prohibition
and start reducing them by reforming the policies.

But this dialogue is undoubtedly going to come. Especially the presence of
the new Member states is interesting in this aspect. Still they are
reluctant to join the discussion (as someone said: “they have taken a seat
in the bus but do not try to come closer to the steering wheel”) also
because they are used to obey orders (first from Moscow, now from
Brussels), but if they do, it is quite sure that they will come with many
questions, as they are aware of the difficulties that prohibition is bringing.

Also some kind of dialogue took place with the United States government.
Its representative, called David Murray, already had been annoyed by the
lack of receptiveness among participants for his ideas about how the EU
should copy the succesfull approach of the US in drug law enforcement. But
when the ENCOD-representative challenged the success of the US drug war and
suggested that he was only defending it because that was his job, Mr.
Murray responded literally: “That is an insult, you son of a bitch”.

CONCLUSION

My conclusion of this conference is that the debate on drug policies is
arriving to the EU forum. Prohibitionist governments are slowly becoming
nervous at the direction the process is taking, and will do everything to
block it. But they are also aware that they do not have any responses to
some of our arguments, and some individual people among government
apparatus are increasingly aware that they need to go into debate with us
in order to find the true response.

It will now be very interesting to see how the reactions will be on the
results of the evaluation of the current EU Action Plan (to be published in
October 2004) and what the Dutch Presidency will do with those results in
order to design the guidelines for the new strategy, which has to be
concluded in December 2004. The first Action Plan 2005-2008 will then be
adopted in the springtime of 2005.

ENCOD will surely follow this process and perhaps, if we get funding,
organise an event to comment this EU strategic process with a broad range
of NGO’s from all around Europe.


EUROPEAN NGO COUNCIL ON DRUG POLICY
Lange Lozanastraat 14
2018 Antwerpen
Belgium
Tel. 00 32 (0)3 237 7436
Fax. 00 32 (0)3 237 0225
E-mail:encod@glo.be
Website: www.encod.org


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Ferre
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.
Cannabis Sacrament Minister.


Joined: 14 Apr 2003
Posts: 2550
Location: Amsterdam

PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A comment:

Quote:
REPORT ON DUBLIN - Including a formal complaint regarding America Behaving Badly.


Dear U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee, and others concerned with international drug policy reform, and the shameful tenor of American diplomacy,

What follows is the ENCOD report on this week's European Union's drug policy reform conference in Dublin, Ireland. As you can see, ENCOD succeeded in effectively presenting the case for rational drug policy reform. I would like to thank Joep Oomen for his dignified honesty, courage and capable efforts in the face of monumental intractability. I also offer my sincere apology to Mr. Oomen and the European delegation, for the shameful outburst of the American representative, Mr. David Murray, when confronted with undeniable truth.

Yet again the United States government has embarrassed itself, and its people, with a vulgar display of dishonesty and arrogance. Particularly in this time of strained international relations, such crude and unprofessional behavior is unacceptable, as it is under any circumstances.

When considered along with his inexcusable, and incompetent misrepresentation of fact, in misrepresenting the effect of murderously counter-productive U.S. drug policies, this disgraceful outburst ought to be cause for Mr. Murray's dismissal. At the very least, a formal written apology is due to Mr. Oomen and the European delegation. Obviously the truth of America's failing drug policy struck a defensive nerve in the American representative of our consistently disingenuous incumbent U.S. administration.

I formally and publicly call upon Congressman Jay Inslee to address this transgression of U.S. integrity and propriety. As our nation attempts to begin recovering some shred of dignity and credibility, after multiple atrocities and prolonged misdirection into various international disasters, Americans cannot allowing even such a reletively minor transgression to go unaccounted and unrectified.

for peace,

Paul von Hartmann
Project P.E.A.C.E.
Planet Ecology Advancing Conscious Economics
12931 85th Ave. NE
Kirkland, Washington 98034

http://www.webspawner.com/users/projectpeace/
http://formalcomplaint.blogspot.com/



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