'Unhappy Birthday': collectives ask to review 100-year-old drug law

'Unhappy Birthday': collectives ask to review 100-year-old drug law
Credit: Belga

Two collectives are marking the 100th anniversary of the Belgian drug law this Wednesday by launching a campaign, “Unhappy Birthday”, calling for a review of the law.

The collectives - #STOP1921 and SMART on Drugs - want a review of the scope and effectiveness of the 1921 law, "which has not been done since 1998, when a parliamentary working group was set up," they said. "This work (...) is unavoidable, as this law is so out of step with contemporary society".

Several arguments in favour of an evolution of the law are put forward. Indeed, for citizens' movements, the criminalisation and repression of drug use is harmful in terms of public health and crime. "The stronger the repression, the more violence increases,” they said.

Furthermore, "the total lack of quality control of products in circulation is responsible for a substantial part of their dangerousness.” #STOP1921 and SMART on Drugs also cite the police and judicial cost of repression, which in 2015 was close to €175 million.

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Moreover, the profits from this traffic are reinjected into the economy without bringing in taxes to the State. "The National Bank of Belgium estimates the drug consumption market in Belgium at nearly €700 million for 2019".

Finally, "the criminalisation of drug use is contrary to human rights, both in principle and in its application,” the collectives argued.

"At a time when the question of how to compensate for the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 crisis is becoming increasingly pressing,” measures such as the regulation of drugs, particularly cannabis, "could weigh heavily in the balance,” the collectives concluded.

The Brussels Times

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