Belgium - Verdict On Cannabis Trial

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by Encod, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. Encod

    Encod Newbie

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    Herewith I send you some information on the verdict in the trial against
    the association of cannabis producers Trekt Uw Plant.

    On Wednesday April 25, at 9 AM, the local court of Antwerpen will issue
    a verdict in the trial against trhe association of cannabis producers
    Trekt Uw Plant <http://www.trektuwplant.be>. This verdict will be of
    great importance for the debate on cannabis legislation in Belgium.
    After the verdict there will be a short press conference on the stairs
    of the Palace of Justice at the Bolivarplaats.

    *What is this trial about?*

    On 12 December 2006, six members of the association Trekt Uw Plant
    (among them member of parliament Stijn Bex of SPIRIT) presented a
    collective cannabis plantation <http://www.myspace.com/encod> to the
    public in the Botanic Garden of Antwerp (Belgium). Following a positive
    recommendation by the Antwerp police, department for public order, the
    Antwerp local authorities had authorized this event.

    During the transport from the Botanic Garden to the definitive location
    of this plantation, the Antwerp Drug Squad interfered. Four members were
    arrested and the plantation, 1 mother plant and 5 clones, was
    confiscated. However, in organising the plantation, the association had
    operated exactly according to a ministerial guideline
    <http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi/api2.pl?lg=nl&pd=2005-01-31&numac=2005009061>


    on cannabis, which was signed in January 2005 by minister Onkelinx and
    all 5 main prosecutors (procureurs-generaal) in Belgium.

    The 2005 ministerial guideline states that the possession of maximum 3
    grammes or 1 cannabis plant by an adult person are no longer prosecuted.
    This guideline has come about after years of parliamentary debates. Its
    aim is to protect individual cannabis consumers against unnecessary
    judicial prosecution.

    In this case the court has to choose between two possibilities.

    Either the court applies the ministerial guideline and the charges
    against Trekt Uw Plant are dropped. In that case an opening in Belgian
    law has been forced in the area of cannabis cultivation. This means that
    associations like Trekt Uw Plant can start to operate in the whole of
    Belgium.

    Or the court ignores the guideline and Trekt Uw Plant is convicted. In
    that case the exact opposite of what was aimed at by the legislator
    occurs. Criminal prosecution for individual cannabis consumers forces
    half a million cannabis consumers in Belgium to provide themselves from
    the black market. This would be very good news for people who are
    profiting financially from this market.

    The consequences of this situation became painfully clear recently when
    the Belgian Scientific Institute of Public Health announced that
    polluted cannabis (with minuscule glass particles) had been sold on the
    Belgian market. This type of practices belongs to a sector which is
    absolutely impossible to control. This sector does not respect age
    limits, so it is absolutely impossible to protect minors against the
    effects of the illegal market.

    Trekt Uw Plant vzw is an initiative of concerned and engaged citizens.
    We wish to enable adult cannabis consumers to cultivate their plant
    under controlled circumstances in the collective plantation of the
    association, and thus avoid the disadvantages of the illegal market.

    On Saturday May 5, Trekt Uw Plant will organise on the Vrijdagmarkt in
    Antwerpen the yearly Global Marihuana March
    <http://www.globalmarijuanamarch.org> that will take place that day in
    more than 200 cities. More information:

    TREKT UW PLANT (vzw)
    Lange Lozanastraat 14
    2018 Antwerpen
    Bélgium
    Tel. -32 3 293 0886 - GSM: -32 479 982271 / -32 495 122 644

    E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]
    www.trektuwplant.be <http://www.trektuwplant.be> and
    www.cannaclopedia.be <http://www.cannaclopedia.be>
     
    1. 3/5,
      Good find
      Apr 25, 2007
  2. Nagognog2

    Nagognog2 Iridium Member

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    Thanks for posting this. It will be very interesting to follow the situation. Please keep giving updates to our members. It's great to see some proactive things being done.
     
  3. namooP

    namooP

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    Has the verdict been delivered? (I ask because its almost midnight of the 25th).
     
  4. Encod

    Encod Newbie

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    ROME WAS NOT DESTROYED IN ONE DAY

    BELGIAN CANNABIS CONSUMERS CONTINUE THE LEGAL FIGHT AFTER 'DE FACTO" ACQUITTANCE



    25 april 2007

    Today the local court of Antwerpen, Belgium (Correctionele Rechtbank) issued a verdict in the case against Trekt Uw Plant vzw. This association has the intention of organising the cultivation of cannabis, meant for the personal consumption of her adult members, in a collective way. Trekt Uw Plant bases itself on the the Royal Decree of 2003 and the Ministerial Guideline of January 2005, signed by the Belgian Minister of Justice and all 5 General Prosectors. According to this guideline the possession of max. 3 grammes cannabis en 1 cannabisplant by adults will not be prosecuted anymore, if there are no aggravating circumstances.

    The judge has sentenced that Trekt Uw Plant is not a criminal organisation. The request of the prosecutor to suspend the association was therefore denied. This means explicitly that there were no aggravating circumstances in this case, which were invoked by prosecutor Lins to accuse us.

    The judge has also sentenced that the cultivation of cannabis is always illegal, and that the ministerial guideline does not have to be followed. She concludes that complete accquittance is impossible: of the 5 accused members, 3 members do not receive any sanctions, and 2 will receive a fine of 15 (fifteen) euro each. This sanction is minimal in comparison with the jail term of max. 5 years which we had been informally warned for by a representative of the Antwerp prosecuter office in October 2006.

    The judge has sentenced that cultivating cannabis is punishable en no lack of clarity exists in the legislation. She refers to the contradictory communication by politicians and media as the cause for confusion amongst individual citizens concerning the status of this guideline and therefore of the cultivation of cannabis as a whole.

    Trekt Uw Plant did not base itself on communications from politicians or media. We have strictly accomplished the regulation stated by the Royal Decree of 2003 and the subsequent Ministerial Guideline of 2005 that replaces the text on cannabis from the RD agter this text was eliminated by a sentence of the Arbitrary Court in 2004.

    At each step, we have done everything to remain within the framework of the law. Every detail was considered extremely carefully. And besides, we asked and obtained permission for the establishment of the plantation from the local Antwerp authorities following positive recommendation of the Antwerp police.

    This sentence ignores the political decision to stop persecuting possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption. This decision has been taken after 8 years of political decisions and debate in society. This is a political sentence, which obliges political decision makers to take a stand.

    VZW Trekt Uw Plant is a legal association. Our initiative can now be repeated in the whole country. We are satisfied with the fact that our name has been cleared: But we do not agree with the interpretation of the legislation on cannabis cultivation. We will therefore go into appeal. The fact that we need to provoke this court case means that the legal status of cannabis cultivation for personal consumption is not clear enough. We call on the politicians to start working out a definitive regulation after the elections on 10 June.

    TREKT UW PLANT continues. We are ready for a long term struggle to obtain our right. We call upon all people who agree with us to become a member or support us in other ways.

    On Saturday May 5, Trekt Uw Plant will organise on the Vrijdagmarkt in Antwerpen the yearly Global Marihuana March that will take place that day in more than 200 cities. You are all wellcome

    TREKT UW PLANT (vzw)
    Lange Lozanastraat 14
    2018 Antwerpen
    Bélgium
    Tel. -32 3 293 0886 - GSM: -32 479 982271 / -32 495 122 644

    E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected] www.trektuwplant.be y www.cannaclopedia.be y www.cannabis-clubs.eu
     
  5. Bajeda

    Bajeda Super Moderator Platinum Member & Advisor

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    What reprecussions will arise from this? I'm not quite sure what this decision does for the situation, other than its direct effects on the defendents.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2007
  6. Nagognog2

    Nagognog2 Iridium Member

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    He's in Belgium, Baj. But it's a close neighborhood.
     
  7. namooP

    namooP

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    I read it as saying that cultivating one plant is (kind of) legal, and Trekt Uw Plant provided a cannabis-growing facility, with each member only cultivating their one allowed plant - which the prosecutor deemed illegal but was overturned? I think?
     
  8. Encod

    Encod Newbie

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    Hi,

    It's not that easy to understand the verdict. We still need to receive the written version and then make a profound analysis.

    As we understand the judge it is as if she wanted to acquit us, but could not because of the huge consequences this would have had. Just imagine: we would immediately have started a collective plantation, as would have other people around Belgium, and this would have brought Belgium immediately as nr. 1 on the list of cannabisfriendly countries, ahead of the Netherlands. Anyone who knows the history and political traditions in Belgium understands this would have been impossible.

    But the judge has said our initiative is justifiable. The prosector had accused us of being a criminal organisation, thus creating an aggravating circumstance to the fact that we were in posession of 1 cannabis plant. This aggravating circumstance, according to the prosecutor, justified the fact that we were persecuted (and the ministerial guideline was not applied).

    The judge has clearly said that this argument is nonsense, so in fact she has said that it is OK to create an organisation of cannabis producers. However, she has also said that cannabis is still illegal and that the ministerial guideline does not have to be applied always, so in fact that no aggravating circumstances are necessary in order to pursue someone. She has also said that confusion exists because of declarations of politicians and journalists, not because the law is inclear.

    Of course we do not agree with this and will go into appeal. We think we have even better chances now to win the case. The argumentation of the prosecutor has been very weak, and the sentence of the judge leaves lots of questions unanswered.

    We are sure we will succeed in the end. But it could take some time. By creating the ministerial guideline in 2005 the Belgian politicians have put a little hole in the law and now it is up to us to start digging in that hole and make it bigger. But legal processes are slow and of course wherever authorities will see a way of blocking the process, they will do so.

    The good news is that now other "TREKT UW PLANT" associations are in the course of being set up in Liege (Frenchspeaking part) and Ghent. Local prosecutors as well as judges in those cities might be more realistic than the one we had in Antwerp.

    The important thing is that we keep our version of the story simple, correct and easy to understand for everybody, so the people (also those who don't use drugs) cannot but feel sympathy. We feel this is the case until now. We have been very lucky with the press. So sooner or later there will come some politicians who will jump on the story and start working on a law proposal that will change the legal status of the plant definitively.

    We"ll keep you informed.

    Best wishes,

    Joep
    www.trektuwplant.be
    www.encod.org
     
    1. 5/5,
      Thank you for that excellent clarification
      Apr 27, 2007