Conference "For The Antiprohibitionist Reform Of The Un Conventions On Drugs"

First of all I would like to thank the organisers of this conference for giving me this chance to speak, and to congratulate Marco Capato for his vigilance in defence of liberty, for instance concerning the current attempt by justice ministers to introduce minimum, mandatory sentences for dealers. This would have the effect of closing down the Dutch coffee shops.

One of the main architects of this proposed change is the German ex-spy boss Hansjörg Geiger. That the Germans are dictating to the Dutch what their drug policies raises some unpleasant spectres from the past.

I have been told the latest position is that when this matter is decided in the very near future, everything hangs on the veto of the Dutch government. IF they do not veto the proposed change, I think that de facto you can forget about legalisation for at least five years,.

My involvement in this field did not begin yesterday. I can genuinely claim to be one of the first people working in the area of human rights for drug users. For example, this is a notarized confirmation of a petition which I organised in 1989–1990 opposing the death penalty generally and specifically those imposed for drug-related offences. This petition was carried out under the auspices of amnesty international, Germany, and collected over 1, 700 signatures.
Human rights and civil rights: these are the most pressing challenges in the entire field of “drug politics”. Executions, the death sentence involving drug offences are still widespread especially in China, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Other major breaches of the human and civil rights of substance users are common, and indeed worldwide; one glaring example is Russia.
It is our intention to set up in the near future a human rights organisation specifically focussing on the field of drug politics; it is needed because mainstream, human rights group are unwilling to take up this issue.

Now I shall turn to the work of scene organisations in the party/rave scene

You could say that we work on behalf of the consumers:
One of our major themes is Drug checking; that means testing for the quality and quantities of party drugs. You can understand this in terms of consumer research. Sometimes lethal pills are in circulation e.g. containing strychnine or PMA or , and we can warn consumers and indirectly producers about this. We urge the legalisation of drug testing for consumers.

Right now we are launching a safer club prize in Germany. Every year we shall award a prize to the partygoers club which provides the best conditions for its consumers: for example free water, good ventilation, proper sanitary conditions, a chill-out area, access to ear-plugs, condoms and objective information, with trained staff, and staff at the door who aren’t some kind of mafia, and so on.

This year the link between the snorting and hepatitis C has finally been established. We are starting a safer sniffing campaign: we need to warn people of the dangers of sharing the “wandering bank note”. Surprisingly hardly anyone is doing this although Hep C is just as dangerous as HIV. It should be pretty obvious that the major drug that consumers sniff is amphetamine and not cocaine.

Another very dangerous myth is that drug use is inevitably problematic. If we are to achieve legalisation, then we have to challenge the dangerous idea that using substances automatically means abusing them. Any substance, heroin, cocaine whether in salt or freebase form can be used recreationally; oh yes! Read Professor Dr. Ridder’s book* about heroin if you don’t believe me.

Let me wrap up my brief contribution by saying that we all have to work harder. We need to have full-time people; there is an enormous amount of work to be done. Scene organisations like Eve & Rave, like the Junkie Unions in Germany, Denmark, Britain and elsewhere need to be integrated into all levels of drug policy making, and that in turn means they need some funding.
Finally, let me rewrite the end of a poem by Paul Muldoon: ….

“And if we do not live to see that day / in which we leap into our true domain,
let us lie down here / in the soiled bed of European history,
lie down here, / and let the people’s history / bleach those sheets white again.”

* Professor Dr. Michael DeRidder: Heroin. Das Arzneimittel und seine Geschichte. 2000 Frankfurt. Campus ISBN: 3593364646

Timothy Jake GLUCKMAN, Eve and Rave