THE FOUNDING CONFERENCE OF THE
INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE AGAINST PROHIBITION
by Giancarlo Arnao
The Founding Conference of the International League Against Prohibition was organized by the Coordinamento Radicale Antiprobizionista (CORA) and by the Partito Radicale. The basis for this event was laid in the Antiprohibitionist Symposium held in Brussels (Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 1988) where, for the first time, practitioners from a wide range of drug related disciplines who do not agree with the current, dominant drug enforcement policies could meet and exchange their experience and opinions. Representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and US attended this symposium.
The meeting in Rome (Marcb 30 - April 1), was attended by 42 delegates, representing 15 nations: Canada, France, Italy USA, Colombia, Spain, Holland, Venezuela, Bolivia, Great Britain, Brasil, Switzerland, Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany and Denmark. They belonged to every professional field connected with the drug problem: psychologists, sociologists, economists, physicians, magistrates, lawyers, criminologists, politicians and police officers.
The first news about the Conference appeared in the Italian press when Robert Randall declared his possession of 116 USA Government issued marijuana joints to the Italian customs officers at Fiumicino Airport. His joints were politely seized, and Bob had to resort to other medicine to soothe his glaucoma. Someone else who came in for media attention was Ralph Salerno, for his role as an antiprohibitionist policeman, which the press found did not quite meet the stereotype of the policeman.
Interesting presentations were given by representatives from Latin America, who expressed, for the first time in Europe and perhaps in the world, a view different from that of the official one. Nevertheless, the importance of this gathering and the level of the debate was not reflected by the press coverage of the Conference. At the same time as the conference was taking place, a new hyperrepressive law (supported mainly by the socialist leader Craxi) was being discussed in the Italian Senate and the press generally represented the Conference as a sort of countermove to the socialist law. The only exception to this was the magazine "L'Espresso", which also supported and collaborated in launching this initiative.
The Conference approved the following political resolutions:
1. Prohibited drugs are ever more widely available, in an ever widening circle of crime.
2. Prohibition has failed. The failure is unacknowledged by the national legislatures and international bodies, especially the UN, that give the lead on drug policies.
3. Prohibition has created the illegal drug trade and the groups that profit from it.
4. The criminal drug trade is multinational, extending from North America to Europe, to the Middle East, to Asia, North Africa and especially to Latin America.
5. The dominant organizations - called cartels, triads, mafias, families etc.- threaten private peace and political stability throughout the world. Repressive action by state agencies make these dangers worse.
6. The failure of prohibition has transformed a question of personal choice and personal health into a world-wide drama. The crime that results also endagers ordinary citizens, their safety and their civil liberties.
7. Never have bad laws, even if made with good intent, had such ill effects since the US introduced their prohibitionist policy on alcohol in 1919.
8. The modern version of prohibition has turned great cities into battlefields, without safeguarding those whom it was intended to protect. Those tempted by hard drugs are thrust into criminality and disease, the worst being AIDS. Casual users are at risk of imprisonment, regular users are driven to crime to finance their habit and, consequently, ordinary citizens are put in danger
9. The cost of the failed attempt to prohibit some drugs, while allowing the promotion and sale of others such as alcohol and tobacco, is universal and vast.
10. Freedom itself is rapidly being undermined by the enforcement of the laws against drugs, to win no advantage for individuals or for society.
11. We, the undersigned, at the Founding Congress of the international League against Prohibition, commit ourselves to the following objectives:
a. to co-ordinate people and organizations in the social, scientific and political fields, who support the objectives of the League Against Prohibition.
b. to disseminate information and understanding on policies concerning drugs and on the harm caused by the present system of prohibition and its consequences for criminality.
c. to challenge the arguments and policies that maintain the prohibitionism at present practised by the UN and its agencies under the existing Conventions.
d. to initiate and support actions at international and national level to dismantle the system of prohibition.
Marie Andree Bertrand, criminologist at the Montreal University and member of Inquiry into the non-medical use of Drugs was elected President of the League.
Rosa Del Dimo (Lecturer of Criminology at the University of Caracas, Venezuela),
Remo Di Natale ( Jurist, founder of the Party for the Alternative, Bolivia),
Lester Grinspoon (Psychiatrist, Harvard Medical School, USA),
Marco Pannella (MP at the European Parliament for the Partito Radicale, Italy),
Luis Diez Ripolles (Lecturer in Criminal Law at the University of Malaga, Spain),
Ralph Salerno (USA), were elected as Vice-presidents.
GeorgThamm (sociologist, FRG) was elected Treasurer.
Peter Cohen (University of Amsterdam),
Anthony Henman (member of the Statal Council of Sao Paulo, Brasil),
Marco Taradash (cofounder of CORA, Italy),
Kevin Zeese (lawyer, vice president of the Drug Policy Foundation, Washington).
It was decided that, in order to help fund future activities and disseminate information about the League, a subscription fee should be established. Subscription rates are as follows:
a. right of information on the League activities = $50.
b. membership = $500
c. organizations = $1000
The temporary address of the League is: c/o Ms. Isabella Zerrouk, Rue Beliard, 93 Bruxelles. FAX 2303670.
Glancarlo Arnao C.O.R.A. (Co-ordinamento Radicale Antiproibizionista) Rome, Italy.