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Sengers Wijnand J. - 1 aprile 1989
by Wijnand J.Sengers

(First preliminary English edition - April 1989 - 76 pages - Special number of the EMNDP-Newsletter, ISSN 1011-1336

(This document is subdivided in 10 texts within Agora'. To retreive the texts please digit the key-word "drug policy").

4.1 What is 'normalising'?

The normalising of drugs policy advocates that drugs policy no longer be prominently placed in government policy. The normalising ideal see's drug policy as having no longer an independant roll in the entirety in which it is a part. In fact, normalizing of drugs policy means that at legislative and administration level, such measures be taken, to ensure that there are no specific rules aimed at boycotting the drug's use for the sake of the drugs mere existence. A word often used for 'normalisation' is liberalisation. The word 'antiprohibitionism' is only connected with legal aspects. Every real form of 'normalisation of current drug policy' will be antiprohibitionistic, but not every form of normalisation means legalisation.

Normalisation can only be achieved in phases, starting from the present situation of extreme differentiation within drug policy so extreme in fact, that human rights and even national security itself are threatened.

Starting point of every form of normalisation is the fact that no government has any influence on the availibity, the quality and the price of illiit drugs.

4.3 u/i 4.6

Given the worldwide fight against drugs, normalisation will have to proceed in stages in order to achieve it's goal:

PHASE 1: Public debate on the pro's and cons of current drug policy.

This should finally lead to the lobbying of government and parliament with recommendations concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the entire present national and international drug policy. The particular points for discusion are among other things: rooting through and sorting out the myths and taboes surrounding drugs; the debate concerning the decriminalisation of the use and possession of drugs for own use; recognition and the understanding of the significance of users organisations; the search for a differentiated approach to the drug problematic and the finding of an openminded, objective and pragmatic drug policy. This debate should be conducted at national and international level. At all levels drug users organisations (whether representing user or addict), must be able to contribute to the discussions.

The most effective medium for debate is the media (daily and weekly newspapers, radio, television, professional journals etc.). In particular drug users should be involved in the discussions. Debate should be stimulated by the United Nations (in particular the ECOSOC Commission on Narcotic Drugs) and the national governments themselves. In the meantime, measures can be taken to ensure drug users and addicts don't have to go "underground" (thus: decriminalisation of drug use, at least the ending of criminal investigation and proceedings by the police; low threshold methodon prescription), this will hopefully result in the user becoming more accessible to for example

health care and councilors. Their viewpoint is of the utmost importance, this is why they must actively be helped to unite. Dialoge can then be developed via their organisations.

PHASE 2: Government measures resulting in flexibility within the drug policy. This loosening must first be concerned with health policy ('harm reduction') and the judical policy with regard to the users. This being achieved without undermining penalization of criminal offences percieved by the general public as deservedly punishable (such as theft, burglary, robbery and other serious crimes) and without the culprits of such offences being made any less responsible for their crimes.

Just being a "junk" will have to be decriminalized: the solution to being a junk may no longer be sort in the criminal law. In the first instance, this means that drug use must be decriminalized (i.e. liberalised). The implications for care provision policy are the development of other possiblities for the rundown drug addict and that treatment must be tuned to the individual addict and his/her living circumstances. In most member states this means offering more differentiated care provision facilities, with an emphasis on an approach at street level (easily accessible care provision facilities; relevant information to the drug user; free availability of condoms and clean disposable intravenous needles; the renounciation of the absention ("kick the habit") ideal and increased attention to the individual needs of the addict).

All this can be achieved if the general public is simultaneously given a more realistic picture of the drug addict and the social background to their plight.

PHASE 3: With the help of planned policy (thus legislation), all psychotropic substances being placed on the same level. This will mean that the use of these substances be as socially acceptable as the drinking of tea and coffee, alcohol consumption, smoking tabacco and the perscription of tranquilizers and all other psychopharmaceutical drugs.

4.6 Normalisation movements, organisations, groups in Europe and the USA

Cannabis Campaign (U.K.). See 3.3.25 and 7

European Movement for the Normalization of Drug Policy (EMNDP), postbox 2579, NL3000 CN Rotterdam. Tel 31.10.4771077 (Wijnand Sengers)

The Drug Policy Foundation Arnold Trebach, Nadelmann, B.Beyerstein a.o.(Suite 330, 4410 Massachusetts Avenue,N.W., Washington D.C. 200168121. Tel.(202)2912482)

Arbeitskreis Junger Kriminologen (AJK) Hess, Scheerer, Quensel e.a.. See 3.3.08

Verein Schweizerischer Drogenfachleute (VSD). See 3.3.24

CO.R.A. (Rome). See 3.3.13

League against Prohibition. See 2.12, 3.3.13 and 7

4.8 Conferences on normalisation and decriminalisation

A.Trebach: Institute on drug policy reform (Summercourse London, July 1987).

Meetings of the Arbeitskreis Junger Kriminologen

Switserland: meetings of the VSD and the Koechlin Stiftung

CO.R.A. and Radical Party (Italy): First Conference on Antiprohibitionic Drug Policy (Brussels, september 1988).

Sergio Stanzani, Luigi del Gatto, Ralph Salerno, Georges Apap, Amato Lamberti, Roger Lewis, Ambrogio Viviani, Michele Coiro, Peter Reuter, Giancarlo Arnao, Richard Stevenson, Fernando Savater, Ernesto Galli della Loggia, Bruce Alexander, Micheline Roelandt, Peter Cohen, Thomas Szasz, Lester Grinspoon, Marco Taradash, Arnold Trebach, Wijnand Sengers, Marie Andrée Bertrand, Jacques Baudour, Marco Pannella.

Drug Policy Foundation (Washington). International Conference on Drug Policy Reform (2023 Oktober, 1988, Washington D.C.).

The foundation of the International League against Prohibition in Roma, the 1. April 1989, by the Radical Party and its CO.R.A. See 2.12, 3.3.13 and 7.

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