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The shared candidacy of the
Cannabis Social Clubs
for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize
represented by founding members

Felipe Borrallo, Jaime Prats and Josep (Katy) Baltierrez i Alier

At times we use marihuana, when we feel the need to free our anguished soul by leaving for a moment the harness of our ever-present mind behind. To freely look at the world, without first classifying it according to gender and color and ostentation of wealth. And because of the loss of our mind, we do stop looking mentally, with preconceived ideas, something all of us have been taught to do, even about the people closest to us, maybe sitting right besides us. When we look at the world just with our eyes, it is as if we see it for the first time: it takes on brilliance and fills us with happiness. A feeling of peace with the world-as-it-is takes hold of us. Some, maybe long held, ideas are shown to be erroneous, and as a result we become better adapted to life.
Therefore, thanks to marihuana, the plant that has sustained, at one moment or another during the last sixty odd years, the alienated and thirsty souls of a big segment of the populace of consumer society.
During those years people have stood up all over the world to protest the prohibition of the marihuana plant and to defend our inalienable right to its use. Of course, that use also includes the growing, and providing for and selling of the plant. But above all that use means the altering of one’s mind, in a friendly environment and a sociable manner.

We all know the Dutch Coffeeshops, these officially tolerated neighbourhood meeting places where, back in the seventies, entrepreneurial users started offering a range of cannabis products for sale. They have been a grandiose social experiment, allowing generations of users to enjoy moments of existential elation in a community setting, free from the menace of persecuting agents.
Over time though, and even if some Coffeeshops have been able to keep operating on a sociable neighbourhood level, the lack of a responsible system for the supply of the plant created a situation in which business interests prevailed over community ones, and the criminalized provision of the Coffeeshops gave conservative governments the opportunity to destroy the erstwhile amiable Coffeeshop culture. These governments were able to go ahead because the Coffeeshop phenomenon had not come about through an organized popular movement in defence of the right to the plant, but had been developed in the tolerant atmosphere of the seventies by socially minded politicians in response to demands from some leaders in the counterculture movement of those days. In the Netherlands consumers never had to organize and fight for their right to marihuana: it was delivered to them on a silver platter. Now that the liberal politicians in power have taken that platter away, since they consider marihuana to be ‘junk', consumers have been left scrambling. The Coffeeshops have put up an organized protest, but these million-dollar businesses have been unable to channel popular discontent into an organized political force. Luckily the country’s mayors have taken up the gauntlet, since the negative consequences of the misguided national policy are reverberating above all at the local level. But even if some ‘burgher-fathers’ have only the wellbeing of their ‘children’ in mind, the Dutch cannabis policy remains a state tutelage of adult citizens, a situation unworthy of a human-rights respecting nation.

In the heydays of the Coffeeshops, cannabis aficionados in Catalonia anxious to legally use the herb in their own country, were told by lawyer Ramon Santos of a loophole in Spanish legislation that allowed for legal ‘study’ of cannabis. Jumping at the opportunity, a group of Barcelona activists formed in 1991 ARSEC, the Spanish acronym for the Ramon Santos Association of Cannabis Studies. By the time in 1993 when the members realized that in order not to depend on black-market hashish they should plant their own marihuana, the association had grown to over a thousand members. When the public prosecutor informed them that a plantation intended for the personal consumption of its members would not be considered a crime, ARSEC carried out in that same year the first collective cannabis plantation of modern history on the grounds of a club member in Montbrió del Camp, in the province of Tarragona.
But before the plants could flower the Guardia Civil, Spain’s national police, cut them off and confiscated the entire harvest, while the Tarragona prosecutor brought criminal charges against the four club members who had taken responsibility for the plantation. Even though ARSEC was absolved in the provincial court of Tarragona, it lost the case in appeal at all subsequent levels, all the way to the European Human Rights Tribunal in Strasburg, France.
Although their plants had not flowered in the fields of Montbrió, the ARSEC enthusiasm in defense of the right to the plant and a sociable way for its production, distribution and consumption, had inspired the Spanish aficionados. Dozens of ‘study’ groups blossomed, which over time led to the formation of hundreds of Cannabis Social Clubs across the Spanish peninsula.

Around this time representatives of ARSEC and Kalamudia, a Bilbao association of cannabis users, travelled to Turin, Italy, to a meeting of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drugs Policies (ENCOD), a loose coalition of organizations concerned with the harmful effects of drugs and drugs' prohibition, mainly heroin addiction and the persecution of the Andean coca growers. Thanks to the interventions of the Spanish representatives, the ENCOD members became aware that they'd been focusing on marginal drug problems while ignoring completely the importance of effective policies for Europe's number one 'drug' of choice: cannabis. Making up for the time lost, ENCOD developed almost overnight into a staunch supporter of responsible cannabis policies, espousing the Cannabis Social Club model to empower users across the continent in their quest for community-based cannabis cultivation and consumption, with the support of and in constant dialogue with local authorities.
As is befitting of the spiritual nature of the cannabis experience, a basic principle of each club is not to operate for profit, growing only for the needs of its members and their guests and adhering to organic agricultural norms in the interest of its consumers' health.
In many countries of the European continent the power politics of national politicians did severely hamper this grassroots development, often causing the loss of property and liberty of the responsible club members. But over the last twenty years, and step by step, the Cannabis Social Club has been tested and proved its society-respecting and sociable character, making it by far the most attractive model to protect the human rights of cannabis consumers to cultivate their own plants and consume them for their personal benefit and pleasure, without causing any harm but to the narrow-minded and intolerant forces in society.

By choosing the Cannabis Social Clubs as candidates for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, we don't intend at all to underestimate the pionering work of the Coffeeshops and the cannabis seed banks, or the political cannabis reform revolutions in California, Colorado and Washington, and further down south in Uruguay. Or for that matter the traditional cannabis cultures from Asia and Africa, whose priceless heritage has enabled alienated westerns to reappropriate the herb in modern times.
Our choice for the cannabis social club is meant as an appreciation for this invaluable model to establish cannabis as a herb cultivated by the people and for the people. History has taught us in very brutal ways what happens when, with the excuse of divine opprobrium or public health, the use of mind altering substances is claimed by the state, to be controled exclusively by the government and the distribution apportioned to oficially appointed agents. Sooner or later corruption will lead to the official abuse of the substances supposed to be controlled to prevent such abuse.
We are indebted to the founders of the first Cannabis Social Club for giving us the model to reclaim the marihuana plant for the benefit of its users and society at large.
Let the spirit of capitalism provide the plant for all those who are unwilling or unable to do so themselves.
But over and above that spirit, we hold that each individual person should be respected in its right to cultivate its own provision and alter its mind according to its own spiritual needs, without the interference of any third party interests.

It is with tremendous pleasure that we have the honour to present

Felipe Borrallo, founding member and president of ARSEC, and

Jaime Prats, botanist of ARSEC and driving force behind the diffusion of the Spanish cannabic ideals through the global Spanish language cannabis press, and

Josep (Katy) Baltierrez i Alier, founding member and secretary of ARSEC,

to represent the Cannabis Social Clubs as our candidates for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

We invite our readers to participate of the nomination campaign, in support of the noble effort our candidates started for the spiritually enriching and socially acceptable use of marihuana, and towards an end of the persecution of its users through the War on Drugs.