Pannagh Cannabis Social Club members face 22 years in prison and millions of euros in fines after the Spanish anti-drug prosecutor fights against the huge social change that has seen cannabis become more tolerated and treated more like alcohol.
Pannagh is one of the first private member cannabis social clubs in Spain founded in 2003 and has been a big influence on the growth and development of the CSC model that has not only flourished in Spain but taken a firm rooting in several other European countries, including our own attempt in the United Kingdom.
The anti-drug prosecutor has asked prison sentences totalling 22 years in prison and fines of nearly two and a half million euros for five members of the association claiming that they are part of a “criminal organisation” and a “drug trafficking offence with outstanding importance”. Martin Barriuso, treasurer Igor Gaminde and the secretary of the association face up to 4 and a half years in prison with another added on for being part of a criminal organisation.
The very things they are being accused of are the reasons they have followed the law that has been set out, to be registered and to act transparently. Cannabis Social Clubs are an alternative to consumers relying on a black market that is guided purely by profit without considering the product or consumer. Many CSC members are patients and a return to the days before a regulated, closed loop system for growing and dispensing cannabis would result in many more people reducing their quality of life because they cannot get the right quality medicine nor at an affordable price.
Two more members of the CSC are being accused of trafficking, two members working with a harvest labour contract, and sentences of two years a 1.000 euro fine have been requested.
Given these facts, the signatories want to publicly express the following:
The Association of Cannabis Consumers Pannagh was formally established as a non-profit association in 2003. It consists of adult people who use cannabis, and its activities are aimed at avoiding risks to its members which are related to the black market and preventing damage associated with the use of the plant.
It’s common knowledge that Pannagh attempts to create alternative circuits to supply cannabis within the current legal framework and to reduce illicit trafficking. To do this Pannagh for several years has organised a closed circuit of cannabis cultivation. This has repeatedly been declared legal by different courts. All previous cases have been dismissed and filed through final judicial decisions, including orders of the Provincial Courts of Bizkaia and Álava. In both cases the confiscated cannabis was returned to the organisation.
We believe that the closure of Pannagh – that has now lasted two years – and the complaint against several of its members is a good example of the legal uncertainty surrounding Pannagh’s activities, a situation that the association has been questioning for years at various levels, and the existence of which was recognized by the Basque Parliament in the resolution that led to the creation of an initiative to regulate Cannabis Social Clubs.
It is noteworthy that, since its founding, Pannagh has been developing activities towards establishing a framework of rights and obligations for cannabis consumers, as well as a comprehensive regulation of plant related activities. For years, its activities have been generally known and tolerated by the de facto government.
It is particularly worrying that three members of the board of Pannagh are accused of involvement in a criminal organisation, when the group is exactly the opposite: a legally registered association, whose activities have been developed without a shadow of secrecy. Not only is it unfair to punish more harshly those who try to follow the channels of the law, but also can it make others believe that it is safer away to keep away from them.
Without going into qualifying the specific legal proceedings, we want to express our support to the public work of the accused persons and, therefore, to that of the entire group of people representing cannabis consumers. We understand that their work in favor of regulation for groups of people who use cannabis in our community, and for more just and effective social policies, has been positive and constructive.
The United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs wish to show their support to the Pannagh Cannabis Social Club. We will be releasing details of our plans to push for CSCs in the UK in 2014.
We ask you to spread this manifesto as much as possible through social networks, websites, emails and everything you can think of. Any person or organization wishing to join this manifesto may send their support firstname.lastname@example.org. In that mail please simply specify if you support the manifest on a personal or at an institutional level. On December 5th we present the manifesto at a public event in Bilbao.