Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Peacepipe for the European Union

Members of the Darwin-based drug law-reform group, the Network Against Prohibition (NAP), are excited about the prospect of sweeping changes to European drug laws.

Last week, drug policy activists from across Europe were offered a peacepipe to representatives of the European Union, during a Public Hearing in the European Parliament on the future of drug policies in the EU..

To share a peacepipe is a common ritual among various civilizations across the globe. The gesture is meant to create the right atmosphere for dialogue between opponents. On 21 April, representatives of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) offered the peacepipe to European Union authorities, among them EU Commissioner of Justice Frattini, in an effort to convince them to make an end to the prohibition of drugs.

The peacepipe has been especially designed for this purpose by the German company ROOR, which distributes waterpipes used for smoking cannabis without tobacco, through the entire world. The pipe is carrying the signatures of various prominent advocates of the legalisation of drugs, such as Howard Marks, Marco Kuhn, Scott Blakey and Stivi Wolyniec.

ENCOD hopes that the hearing in the European Parliament will become an important step towards the end of drug prohibition in Europe. The organisation considers the hearing as a support for the "Catania report", a set of recommendations on drug policy that was approved by the European Parliament in December 2004.

The report, named after its draftsman, Italian MEP Giusto Catania, recognises that current policies are inadequate. It establishes health promotion as the basic principle of future drug policies, and recommends establishing concrete measures to facilitate the involvement of civil society in drug policy making.

In the draft of the new EU Action Plan, released by the European Commission in February 2005, the recommendations of the European Parliament report have been ignored completely. In the past month ENCOD has collected more than 35.000 signatures in an online petition to support the Catania report see .

According to recent figures from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, up to 10 % of European adult citizens (or approx. 45 million people) admit to be a "regular" user of cannabis which is still illegal throughout the Union. This means that according to current drug laws, a population is being criminalised that is larger than that of a country like Spain or Poland.

"Today we need symbols more than ever" says Howard Marks, author and entrepreneur specialised in cannabis. "A good dialogue will lead to far reaching and intelligent decisions, and as the Indians already knew, sharing the peacepipe will give us the courage to do so."

ENCOD facilitate an International Coalition of Non-Government Organisations for Just and Effective Drugs Policy, of which the Darwin-based drug law-reform organisation, the Network Against Prohibition, is a member.

NAP spokesperson for European affairs, Scott White, said: "ENCOD's secretariat and member organisations are without a doubt leading the way towards the re-legalisation of currently illicit substances. While Australia blindly follows the USA and the UK with an ancient zero tolerance approach to drugs, many countries in Europe have accepted that the 'war on drugs' cannot be won."

"The network congratulates our European comrades for their inspiring drug law-reform work."

"The Europeans are moving towards relaxing drug laws and accepting drug use as a normal course of life and to highlight that the problem of drug misuse is directly related to prohibition and poverty."

For more information on the hearing, contact Joep Oomen in Europe on 00 32 (0)3 237 7436, Scott White (NAP) on 0429 198 618, or see.

To read this media alert with links

Note for the written press:

The speech that will be delivered at the hearing in the EP by the ENCOD representative is available for publication as an editorial. Please contact us if you are interested.

International Coalition of Non-Government Organisations for Just and Effective Drugs Policy

Network Against Prohibition (Darwin, Australia)
PO Box 701 Parap NT 0804 Australia
Phone: +61 (0) 8 8942 0570 Mobile: +61 (0) 415 16 2525
Email: naphq@bigpond.net.au

By NAPNT 26 April 05


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