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Federation of Cannabis Associations Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 9 January 2011 Cannabis social clubs in Spain A normalizing alternative underway By Martín Barriuso Alonso 1 Cannabis social clubs (CSC) are non-commercial organisations of users who get together to cultivate and distribute enough cannabis to meet their personal needs without having to turn to the black market. They are based on the fact that the con-sumption of illegal drugs has never been considered a crime under Spanish legislation. Taking advantage of this grey area, private clubs that produce cannabis for non-profit distribution solely to a Conclusions & Recommendations
closed group of adult members have  The appearance of cannabis social clubs existed for years. (CSC) in Spain in 2002 has enabled thou- Since their appearance in 2002, CSCs have sands of people to legally grow their own enabled several thousand people to stop marijuana supply for personal consumption financing the black market and to know the and ensure that it is good quality. quality and origin of what they are con-  Clubs began to appear throughout the suming, whilst creating jobs and tax country, due to a grey area in Spanish revenue. All of this has happened without legislation, and through a legal registry having to withdraw from existing UN drug system for groups of users those who collectively cultivate marijuana. This article outlines the nature and  The CSC boom occurred after various functioning of these clubs. It also proposes Supreme Court decisions that stated that a better route for legalisation of drugs: cultivation for personal use is not a crime as rejecting the creation of an open trade it is not destined for trafficking. system, similar to that of alcohol or tobacco and opting instead for a consumer-focused,  It is time for the debate on drug policies non-profit model that avoids many of the to move on from a simplified discussion of risks inherent in a market dominated by legalisation or prohibition and instead con-siders alternative ways to deal with drugs. the pursuit of economic profit. Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies 1 HISTORICAL AND LEGAL PRECEDENTS
person has no previous criminal record. However, if there is a second prison Spain signed the UN's Single Convention sentence then the sentences are added on Narcotic Drugs in1966. The following together, which means that there are year, this resulted in the approval of Law thousands of people in prison in Spain for 17/1967 on Narcotic drugs establishing that cannabis trafficking. Serious cases the possession of illegal drugs would only (organised trafficking, large quantities, be allowed for medical or scientific use. selling to minors, etc.) get between three However, the law only stipulated the and nine years. In both instances large fines confiscation of prohibited substances and are also imposed. These are calculated on did not designate any other sanctions. the basis of the market price of the confiscated goods. In 1973 the crime of drug trafficking in its present form was incorporated into crimi- With regard to possession and consump- nal law. The following year the Supreme tion, these are still theoretically sanctioned Court made the first judgement establish- with confiscation when drugs are found in ing that drug consumption and possession private residences. In practice this usually for consumption are not criminal offences. results in impunity as private residences are This created a jurisprudence that was inviolable, except under court orders or in strengthened by subsequent decisions, the case of being caught in action. In public establishing that shared consumption, places, pathways and establishments, in giving drugs for compassionate reasons, addition to confiscation of the substance, and joint purchase by a group of addicts - there are also sanctions of between 300 and as long as it did not involve profit-seeking - 30,000 Euros, since the 1992 Law on the were not crimes either. Protection of Citizens' Security was passed. The sanctions can be suspended if a person However, this decriminalisation did not agrees to undergo a detoxification lead to clear regulations on production and treatment. This artificially increases the possession for personal consumption. In statistics for care given for cannabis-related terms of cannabis there are Public Prosecu- problems as an estimated 75 percent of tor guidelines on the quantity of cannabis treatment requests are a result of sanction that users may have in order for possession not to be considered a crime. With regard to plants, which may be cultivated for THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT
personal consumption, there are no guide-lines, which mean that interventions vary ASSOCIATING CANNABIS USERS AND
greatly depending on the region and on the THE FIRST COLLECTIVE CULTIVATIONS
personal and ideological attitude of the police or judges involved. This causes To make a stand against the prohibition of considerable legal insecurity, which results consumption in public places was one of in many police interventions for small the initial objectives of the cannabis move- cultivations that nearly always end up with ment, which emerged in 1993 through the the files being closed or the perpetrators Asociación Ramón Santos de Estudios Sobre el Cannabis (ARSEC) group in Barcelona. Another objective was to put an end to the At present cannabis trafficking is punished juridical insecurity regarding cultivation, with prison sentences of between one and finding a legal way to be self-sufficient. three years. A first offence does not nor- ARSEC sent a letter to the anti-drug public mally result in imprisonment, as Spanish prosecutor asking whether it would be legislation holds that sentences of up to two considered a crime to grow cannabis for years of prison are suspended when a use by a group of adult users. The reply was 2 Series on Legislative Re form of Drug Policies that in principle this was not criminal on the possibility of setting up establish- behaviour, which resulted in a cultivation ments where people would be able to experiment destined for around 100 people, obtain cannabis whilst respecting the legal that was broadcast by the media. The crop framework. The authors Juan Muñoz and was confiscated, but the provincial court Susana Soto, after fully analysing the acquitted those involved, although the case jurisprudence on cannabis and other illegal was later taken to the Supreme Court. substances, reached the conclusion that these establishments should be "Centres Meanwhile, other groups emerged that that are not open to an indiscriminate followed in the footsteps of ARSEC. The public, but where access is restricted to first to do so was the Kalamudia association hashish or marijuana smokers. As a method from Bilbao, which produced a crop of of controlling access, people would have to around 600 plants for the use of 200 people, be regular users. These would be places of including some members of the regional private consumption amongst regular users, parliament and a few town councillors where they would be able to obtain and from various political parties, as well as consume quantities that would not exceed artists, trade unionists, doctors, etc. The the fixed consumption limit." legal case was closed soon after being opened and the crop harvested without The report was never officially published, legal obstacles. although it did appear in a prestigious legal journal.3 And even though it was a simple, However the ARSEC case, which was non-binding, technical report, several pending conclusion for two years, was institutions seem to have taken its conclu- settled a few days later with a minimum sions into account. Little by little, associa- prison sentence (which was suspended) and tions began to formalise their set-up: from fines against the directors of the associa- being registered as "cannabis research" tion. The Supreme Court stated, that associations they went on to become "can- although it was clear that ARSEC did not nabis users" associations and included the intend to traffic drugs, the cultivation of creation of private spaces for consumption cannabis was dangerous per se and and social cultivation in their statutes. The therefore should be punished. As a result, pioneer was the Barcelona Catadores Can- in principle they closed the doors to drug nabis Club (CCCB), in 2001. cultivation associations. Meanwhile the Supreme Court, in decisions Nevertheless, in 1999, the Kalamudia asso- passed between October 1, 2001, and July 9, ciation decided to challenge the law and 2003, contradicted the initial ARSEC judge- repeat their public and collective marijuana ment, establishing that possession of can- plantation. The public prosecutor did not nabis, including large quantities, is not a intervene. The crop was once again har- crime if there is no clear intention of traf- vested without incident and in the presence ficking. In subsequent years, the report by of television cameras. In 2000 the third Muñoz and Soto and the above Supreme crop was produced, and again provoked no Court decisions would serve as a basis for legal action. In the face of this lack of various judicial resolutions that considered opposition the associations decided to seek the cultivations of various cannabis clubs some institutional and legal stability for their cultivations. Amongst these cases, the most talked about THE CANNABIS CLUB MODEL IS BORN
was the one that took place in 2005 against the Pannagh association. Four members of Meanwhile, the regional government of the group were detained and the associa- Andalusia commissioned a juridical report tion's cultivations confiscated. This led to a Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies 3 parliamentary question to the European There are currently an indeterminate num- Commission from the Italian Euro MP ber of clubs in Spain, that from available Giusto Catania. In it she asked why it is statistics could be anywhere between 100 that in a country in which consumption is and 300. These are spread out unevenly decriminalised and people can legally join a throughout various regions, with the club of users, it is also possible to prosecute highest concentration in Catalonia and the one of these clubs through the criminal Basque country where there is a higher justice system for carrying out preparatory level of social tolerance. In fact, the demand activities to consumption. for information on creating new clubs has been so great that the FAC has had to draw The commission replied two months later, up a guide on how to create a cannabis through the European commissioner for Justice Franco Frattini, saying that the European Union is not responsible for the The typical evolution of a cannabis social regulation of conduct related to possession club starts with it being founded and and consumption. In accordance with a recorded in the registry of associations. Framework Decision by the European Next, the members who wish to approve a Union,4 "the member States guarantee that collective agreement on cultivation do so. cultivation of cannabis plants, when carried The club rents or buys land, buildings, out illegally, is a punishable offence." But equipment and all that is necessary to this obligation disappears in the case of cultivate and later distribute the harvest. cultivation for personal consumption The calculation of how much is cultivated because, in the words of commissioner is done on the basis of a prediction of each Frattini, "article 2.2 excludes cultivation of member's consumption. cannabis for personal consumption from the Council's Framework Decision as it is The care of the plants, according to the defined by national legislation." formula chosen in each club, is carried out by voluntary members, staff hired directly Almost immediately the case was closed by the club, or professional cultivators and, in an unprecedented decision, it was (who are usually also members) who are decided that the marijuana confiscated paid for the land rental and the hours (over 17 kg.) be returned to the members of worked after producing the relevant Pannagh, an event that was much invoices. The accounts are kept very publicized and was probably the trigger of a thoroughly in case there is an investigation. genuine boom of new associations trying to launch their own cannabis production. Distribution is done on the club's premises, HOW A CANNABIS CLUB WORKS
which are normally in commercial build-ings or offices and only club members and Because of the lack of clear regulation, asso- accompanying adults can attend. It is dis- ciations have had to improvise and invent tributed in small quantities, for more or less solutions in order to standardize their immediate consumption. Most CSC also activities. The main pioneering groups have a consumption area for members, came together in 2003 as the Federation of although they often allow small quantities Cannabis Clubs (FAC), which initially to be taken away for consumption over the included 21 clubs. The federation has been following few days, so members don't have developing a legal and management model to attend on a daily basis. There is a maxi- over recent years known as Cannabis Social mum consumption limit, which is usually 2 Clubs, to try to find a way of fitting the or 3 gr/day, and this can only be exceeded growing number of clubs and their increas- in the case of users with medical needs that ing complexity, into current legislation. require higher doses. 4 Series on Legislative Re form of Drug Policies The clubs produce and distribute mainly In order to avoid this situation, proposals marijuana, from either exterior or interior have been drawn up within the FAC to cultivation, although they sometimes make regulate the activities of the CSC so that hashish and increasingly more often, other these may be overseen by public institu- products such as alcohol, cream, oils, tinc- tions and therefore avoid police and tures, sweets, etc. so as to promote alter- judicial interventions which can cause native consumption methods to smoking. unnecessary damage. Several associations Some clubs also loan out vaporizers. from the Basque country recently presented a proposal in parliament- still awaiting a Those who participate in cultivation pay vote - to create a specific registry for membership fees proportionate to their associations of this kind, in which their consumption, used to cover production economic activity is overseen in order to costs, storage and management. Being non- check that they really are non-profit profit organisations, any economic profit is organisations. This would be combined reinvested in the association. A part of the with a police and administrative protocol profit is used for various social activities that would include a list of places of such as courses and conferences, legal and cultivation, inspections of these places, medical consultancy, protests and political taxation of production and supervised lobbying activities to promote normaliza- transportation. All this would bring an end tion of cannabis use, or to support the to the current juridical insecurity and Cannabis Cup (a celebration of marijuana without a need to reform the criminal code which awards prizes for the highest quality or withdraw from international treaties. marijuana production by CSCs). Cannabis social clubs provide a viable alternative to the dominant illegal market, Administration is democratic and uses one which is compatible with upholding various models, horizontal or hierarchical, treaties on drugs that currently appear but the ultimate decision making body is untouchable. This model makes it difficult always the general assembly of members. for minors to access the substance, limits To join a club, one must be invited by one so-called "psychoactive tourism" and or two of the members, who can also weakens the black market by removing guarantee that the person wishing to join potential clients from it. What is more, really is a cannabis consumer; alternatively members of a CSC are able to control the they must present a medical report that origin, quality and composition of what confirms they are suffering from an illness they are consuming, whilst generating legal for which cannabis use is recommended. economic activity and tax collection. Despite their existence in a legal grey area, REGULATION TO HELP THE CRISIS
the administrative situation of many clubs is almost normalised. Quite a few of them For a recent hearing in the European Par- have contract staff who are in the social liament, in December 2010, when the CSC security system and pay various rates and model was presented to the heads of the taxes, such as income tax, corporation tax, Anti-Drugs Unit of the European Commis- and in some places even VAT, which taxes sion,6 we carried out a calculation of the 18 percent on the distribution of CSC revenue that would be generated for the products. However, there are still many Treasury if the clubs were extended to unresolved questions and the clubs are Europe. In order to make this calculation, permanently at risk from various legal we used as a reference the jobs, taxes and problems, especially during cultivation and social security contributions generated by the 2009 cultivation activity of the Pannagh Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies 5 association, of which I am founder and The most commonly consumed psycho- president. Around 200 members partici- active substances, such as alcohol, tobacco pated in this cultivation, with a relatively and caffeine are guided by a market domi- modest average consumption of less than nated by large companies and commercial channels with low prices for producers and the abusive predominance of middlemen. If in Spain one million people (or 60 % of The constant quest for profit has brought people who consume cannabis on a daily about underhand practices, increase in basis in Spain and 30 % of frequent users) health risks (such as the carcinogenic addi- were to get their supply through clubs tives used in many brands of cigarettes), identical to Pannagh, some 7,500 direct and reduced consumers to a passive role jobs would be created and around 30,000 where their only possible decision is to buy indirect jobs, not taking into account the activity generated in economic sectors which provide services, equipment and In a CSC, on the other hand, members have supplies to the clubs, such as fertilizers, greater rights and decision-making capacity cultivation material, greenhouses, about their consumption than they would transport, legal consultancy etc. in a commercial relationship. They approve These jobs would create around 155 million the accounts, administration, budgets, etc. Euros in social security contributions. and have fairly direct control over produc- Around 54 million Euros of income tax tion as the entire process, from sowing to would be collected and around 100 million the finished product, is carried out within Euros of VAT, that is a total of 367 million the structure of the club. What is more, the Euros of direct income for the government. fact that there is contact between producers If we apply this figure to the 23 million and consumers makes it easier to find a people who are thought to use cannabis balance between dignified salaries and regularly in the European Union, the figure reasonable prices. Instead of competing rises to 8.4 billion Euros. amongst themselves, the various agents who participate in the process cooperate SHOULD CANNABIS BE "NORMALISED "
with each other to obtain the maximum mutual profit. LIKE ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO?
When CSCs were first being developed, In short, our daily experience has shown us from a pro-legalisation point of view we that the limits imposed by the current legal considered that the ultimate objective was framework, in particular the obligation to to arrive at a cannabis market that was produce and distribute within a closed similar to the alcohol market or, in some circle and, above all, the absence of profit, ways, to the tobacco market.7 The clubs create a framework of relations that is were conceived as a transition model, a different and, for us, fairer and more bridge to the ideal model, where not only balanced. And so our vision of our long- consumption and production but also term goal has changed. trading are completely legal. However, as the CSC have been establishing themselves, As we have succeeded to obtain our supply a debate has begun at the heart of the directly and under better conditions, why associations about whether the open would we fight for a capitalist market for market system is really better than that of cannabis, where the power of decision is users' clubs, and whether we should once again in the hands of a few people and continue to demand that cannabis be put where we no longer control how substances on a level with legal drugs. we consume are produced. 6 Series on Legislative Re form of Drug Policies A PROTECTIONIST MARKET TO DEFEND
running live experiment that appears to be CONSUMERS
doing very well. After all surely it is about time that utopia had a place in the debate By some strange legal fate, the global on drug policies? prohibition of drugs applied by the Spanish courts with the view that its goal is to protect consumers from the risks of drugs has given place to a strange protectionist market for cannabis, where there is econo-mic activity but no profit, entrepreneurs but not businessmen, and cooperative of consumers who are associated with small scale cultivators, that function separately from the major distribution outlets and the economy. In a society such as Spain, facing a deep economic and social crisis f after years of speculation, extreme consumerism and easy money, this parallel economy 1. Martín Barriuso Alonso is the President of the Federation of Cannabis Associations (FAC). seems now more of an advantage than a disadvantage. 2. Calculated by the author based on statistics published in the annual report of the National There are many possible alternatives for the legal regulation of drugs. However, when legalisation is talked about one tends to 3. Muñoz, J. y Soto, S. (2001). "El uso terapéu- think of a capitalist open market. That is tico de cannabis y la creación de estable- logical for people who argue that this is cimientos para su adquisición y consumo", their ideal economic model, like Thomas Revista de Derecho Penal y Criminología, 7, 49-94. Szasz, who I heard say, wants "heroin to be sold like Coca Cola." But when critical 4. Council Framework Decision, 2004/757/JHA sectors within the dominant economic of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum model argue about drugs policies pro- provisions on the constituent elements of posing total prohibition and almost total criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit liberalization as the only alternatives, it drug trafficking seems they have not stopped to think that 5. The guide is available at http://bit.ly/FAC- there are other ways of doing things. GuiaDeClubes (in Spanish). Rather than changing the current panora- 6. Public Hearing "Drug reform and cannabis ma of repression and criminal mafias for a regulation, a way out of the crisis?". December 8 different scenario of adulterated and 2010, European Parliament, Brussels. Further unecological marijuana, packaged by information at: http://www.encod.org/info/EU- multinationals in seductive and shiny wrappers, we would prefer to imagine a PROHIBITION.html world in which psychoactive plants such as 7. Barriuso, M. (2005) "Propuesta de modelo cannabis are obtained through a network of legal para el cannabis en el estado español", democratic groups who want to improve Eguzkilore, Revista del Instituto Vasco de the quality of life of many, instead of Criminología, nº 19, pág. 151-167; available in making a few people richer. Perhaps this seems a somewhat utopian proposal, but it is based on an up and Series on Legislative Reform of Drug Policies 7


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The project aims to promote more humane, balanced, and effective drug laws. Decades of repressive drug policies have not reduced the scale of drug markets and have led instead to human rights violations, a crisis in the judicial and peniten-tiary systems, the consolidation of organized crime, and the marginalization of vulnerable drug users, drug couriers and growers of illicit crops. It is time for an honest discussion on effective drug policy that considers changes in both legisla- tion and implementation. Transnational Institute (TNI)
This project aims to stimulate the debate around legislative De Wittenstraat 25 reforms by highlighting good practices and lessons learned in 1052 AK Amsterdam areas such as decriminalization, proportionality of sentences, specific harm reduction measures, alternatives to incarcera-tion, and scheduling criteria for different substances. It also Tel: -31-20-6626608 aims to encourage a constructive dialogue amongst policy Fax: -31-20-6757176 makers, multi-lateral agencies and civil society in order to E-mail: drugs@tni.org shape policies that are grounded in the principles of human www.tni.org/drugs rights, public health and harm reduction. www.druglawreform.info 8 Series on Legislative Re form of Drug Policies

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Prospects of Malaria Control in Northeastern India with Particular Reference to Assam V.P. Sharma, Vas Dev Malaria is endemic in the entire northeastern region comprising of 7 states. P. falciparumis the most predominant species. P. falciparum has become resistant to chloroquine(CQ) and sulphadoxine pyremethamine (SP) drugs. The principal vectors viz. An. baimaii(formerly species D of An. dirus complex), An. minimus and An. fluviatilis are highlyefficient in malaria transmission with exophilic and exophagic behavior, and maintainstable malaria in the region. Problems in malaria control and way forward in achievingsustainable malaria control are described.