International Medical Cannabis Patients Coalition
By Deej Sullivan
Reporting from the Conference in Prague on behalf of NORML UK.
In part one of my write-up of the medical cannabis conference that has taken place this week in Prague I focused on what I saw as a huge difference between attitudes towards cannabis at home and abroad. In part two I will be looking at something that happened this week that has brought us all together.
When I arrived at the conference I was excited by the prospect of 4 days of talks and lectures but also quite nervous – I was concerned that I would be the lone activist among a sea of prestigious scientists and professors, and that I would simply be out of my depth.
At first these fears appeared to be well-founded. There I was surrounded by men (for the most part) in suits and ties, all of whom seemed to know each other and none of whom seemed to have any interest in talking to a slightly bedraggled looking, long-haired Englishman. Especially as I clearly wasn’t about to offer them funding.
However my worries were allayed slightly when I bumped into French activists Farid and Kenzi from Chanvre & Libertes, who immediately congratulated me and the UK in general for the Feed The Birds campaign. I tagged along with them for most of the first day and through them met activists from Bulgaria, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia and elsewhere, all of whom seemed very excited about what was to happen over the next few days – although at this point I didn’t fully grasp what it was they were talking about.
All became a little clearer when Kenzi pointed out something to me in the official conference programme that I had overlooked – scheduled for days 2, 3, and 4 was a ‘Closed Meeting of Patients’ Unions for Treatment with Cannabis and Cannabinoids’. I probably hadn’t paid much attention to this because of the words ‘closed meeting’, and to be perfectly honest I still wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about, but I was assured that I must come along and that it definitely wasn’t closed to me. Which was nice.
So along I went, and the reason for the excitement immediately became clear. What was happening behind those closed doors in a nondescript function room at the Marriott Hotel was quite extraordinary.
By now most of you reading this will already know what was occurring – a gathering of representatives of medical cannabis groups from 13 different countries had been brought together by Steph Sherer from Americans for Safe Access, with the intention of forming a new, international coalition.
Not only that, but this coalition was to be an official advisor to the Global Commission on Drug Policy and between us over the following three days we were to put together a Resolution to be presented to the UN. Not bad considering I hadn’t planned on attending this ‘closed meeting’.
Over the course of the 3 days then all of us – British, American, Slovakian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Israeli, Slovenian, French, Czech, Canadian, Italian and German – sat around a table and discussed, civilly, how to proceed. And at the end of it all we had come up with a Resolution, a Mission Statement, a fully functional website, a press release, a name and logo for our coalition and even a statement which will be presented to the CND in Vienna by the Deputy of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Pavel Bem.
Not bad for less than a week’s work I think you’ll agree.
In reality of course this whole thing has taken years and a huge amount of hard work to come together, and I was frankly lucky to have happened upon it right at the vital moment. The task now is to keep moving forwards – which means we need press coverage for a start, and for the CND and UN to take us seriously, which I’m confident they will as long as the hard work and commitment shown by the people in that hotel room in Prague continues to exist and be felt.
To read the full Prague Resolution and keep up to date with the work of the IMCPC visit www.imcpc.org
“First we smoked a joint, then we made history” – Vasil Haralampiev (Restart Bulgaria)