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    SPANISH GOVERNMENT MOVING TO CLOSE POT MAGAZINES, GROW SHOPS

    The conservative Spanish government of Prime Minister Jose Aznar and
    his Popular Party is moving to rein in that country's lively cannabis
    culture. Although cannabis use and possession is not a crime in Spain,
    for the last six months Interior Minister Angel Acebes has been
    spearheading the effort, which includes proposals to shut down
    marijuana grow shops and seed sellers, as well as an attack on Spain's
    leading pro-cannabis publications, Canamo and Yerba, as "apologists"
    for pot-smoking among teenagers. A government panel is expected to
    make recommendations for the cultural offensive in March.

    Although the Aznar government had made noises about going after the
    cannabis culture as early as the fall of 2002, the offensive really
    got underway in July 2003, when Acebes, pronouncing himself perplexed
    by a rise in cannabis consumption among Spanish youth, blamed it on
    magazines like Canamo. Such publications are "manipulating" the kids,
    he said at a press conference in Santander.

    Acebes announced the formation of a a group of experts "to review all
    the measures that can be more effective in halting this manipulation
    regarding the supposed innocuousness of cannabis, and in some cases
    the benefits it produces, in order to pursue those who realize these
    types of activities that are so harmful and so prejudicial for young
    people." Those measures could include new laws "that can pursue with a
    greater strength those who do such pernicious and negative work."

    Since then, the Spanish government has embarked on an all-too-familiar
    campaign of demonization of the weed, replete with shocked reports
    that marijuana use among teens is on the rise and US drug czar-style
    warnings that marijuana is stronger than it once was. Last month,
    Acebes released data gathered for his group of experts by the National
    Drug Plan, the equivalent of the US Office of National Drug Control
    Policy. He trumpeted findings that marijuana potency had increased
    from 4-7% in 1994 to 10-20% in 2003, using them as more evidence of
    the need for a counteroffensive.

    Acebes also announced that marijuana consumption is on the increase
    among the youth, with 22% of young people identifying themselves as
    habitual users -- up from 19% in 2000 -- and 37% saying they had
    smoked pot at least once. Again taking a page from the US drug czar's
    playbook, Acebes warned that the figures showed "a low perception of
    risk" from marijuana among young people.

    And thus the attack on the pot mags. Canamo, which has published since
    1997, and Yerba, have been leading voices of the cannabis culture and
    have published rigorous, independent articles on both the benefits and
    risks of numerous illicit substances. For Acebes, such reporting
    translates into "apology for the consumption of cannabis among teenagers."

    But Canamo roundly denies such claims, noting that its issues carry a
    "for sale to adults only" sticker. Its web site (http://www.canamo.net)
    carries a similar warning. In fact, Canamo has taken the rhetorical
    offensive. In July, Canamo editor Gaspar Fraga told the Spanish media
    Acebes "should not look for scapegoats" to justify "the failure of his
    drug prevention policies." In addition, Fraga suggested, Acebes might
    want to worry less about cannabis and more about alcohol (used
    regularly by 55% of teens) and tobacco (29%), "legal and lethal drugs
    that provoke many grave, dangerous, and devastating effects."

    But it's not just about keeping kids off drugs, Fraga told DRCNet,
    it's about politics. The Aznar government faces elections in March, he
    said. "By attacking Canamo, the government has played politics, hoping
    to win the favor of public opinion. By accusing us of 'apology for
    cannabis use among adolescents and students,' it hopes to gain the
    support of parents, educators, and a conservative majority," he
    explained. "If Acebes' and Aznar's Popular Party gains an absolute
    majority, Canamo could have problems with being shut down," Fraga warned.

    But it's not just Canamo, or even Yerba. The grow shops and seed
    sellers who supply Spain's 2.5 million pot smokers will also be
    endangered, if not by new laws then perhaps by new administrative
    regulations designed to run them out of business. In an early hint of
    such a strategy, Acebes last month publicly complained that "some
    shops are selling seeds when they have licenses for selling caramels."

    But again, it comes back to politics, Fraga said. "We have the support
    of the parties that control the government of Catluna -- the
    socialists and others of the left -- and throughout Spain we have the
    support among the socialists, the communists, and ecologists. Also,
    the cannabis movement is very strong in Spain, and much of society
    sees neither alarm nor worry with cannabis users."

    Some of that support was evidenced last month, as the cannabis people
    and the leftist parties denounced the repressive moves. Jaime Torrens,
    head of the Ramon Santos Cannabis Studies Association, accused the
    government of beginning a "crusade" against cannabis. It would be
    wrong to say that marijuana has no negative effects, he told Linea
    Digital Social, but "the relation between the negative effects and
    this constant criminalization is not justified."

    The socialists' spokeswoman on drug policy, Carmen Romero, told Linea
    it was "scandalous" that Acebes was concentrating on pot smoking
    instead of breaking up large hard-drug trafficking networks, while the
    United Left's parliamentary spokeswoman, Marisa Castro, added that it
    was "dangerous" to say all drugs are equally bad for the health. "You
    can't educate the young with abstinence, but with responsible use, and
    the greatest antidote to fear is information," she said.

Comments

  1. Woodman
    Alfa.



    That whole situation has the stench of a much wider agenda.



    Do you have any data on the UN''s policy toward cannabis?



    I suspect the Spain. eager to appease the virtually useless world body. You'ld think that ANY government would be smarter than to align itself with an organization whose greatest claim to fame is social and political IMPOTENCE!
  2. BA
    Here you go bro,


    World Health Organization Suppresses Report Finding Marijuana Safer than Alcohol and Tobacco 2/20/98


    The February 18 edition of Britain's NEW SCIENTIST Magazine reports that the Geneva-based World Health organization (WHO) suppressed, under political pressure, a report which confirmed that marijuana is safer than either alcohol or tobacco. The report, which was to be a part of the WHO's summary report on Cannabis (released in December), was reportedly axed under pressure from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse and the UN International Drugs Control Program, who told the WHO that inclusion of the section would "play into the hands of groups campaigning to legalize marijuana."


    According to New Scientist (to which a copy of the suppressed report was leaked) the official explanation of the exclusion of the report was that "the reliability and public health significance of such comparisons are doubtful." But New Scientist also reports that insiders informed them that the report was scientifically sound.


    Kevin Zeese, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy Foundation, told The Week Online, "Just business as usual for the drug war establishment. Once again they have shown themselves to be afraid of the truth, to the point of suppressing it. The suppression of information as a method of sustaining a policy which cannot stand up to the truth is a tactic of totalitarian, non-democratic regimes. For the citizens of the free nations of the world, even for those who have never given a thought to the rationale behind the Drug War, this kind of tactic should serve as a warning that something is terribly wrong.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    This is my opinion, without the war on drugs countriescould not wage war against in some cases freedom fighters that have been branded terrorists. It has been proven that terrorists fund their activities through drugs. I could go into a lenghty distribe on the UN's World Health Organization and countries that use drug laws to suppress their people, but I won't, not in this forum.


    BA
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