The Alliance for Rights-Oriented Drug Policies
Your Rights Watch
APPLICATION TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Together with neighboring Sweden, Norway is the last European country to leave the drug-free ideal behind. It is no coincidence that these two countries have been found at the top of European drug-death statistics for decades, and while Norway and Sweden remain established in the prohibition paradigm, other countries have been regulating the drug market to better respect human rights. Half of Europe’s citizens will soon be living in a legalized market, but for Germany and other nations to regulate the cannabis industry, they must demonstrate that a right to cannabis use exists.
European law releases the member states from taking measures against trade of drugs – including cannabis – if it is based on a right, and the decision of the European Court will either arrest or assist the European trend towards increased regulation of drug markets.
Norway’s prohibition stance may, therefore, do some good. In the past decade, the international drug policy conventions have gone from being interpreted in light of the ideal of a drug-free world to emphasizing the idea behind the conventions, which is to protect the welfare of humanity, and the European Court has a responsibility to 700 million people under its jurisdiction to ensure human rights protection. Considering that the drug free ideal no longer governs policy, society must choose between a criminal market or a regulated drug market, and more and more countries understand that the latter is better for the health of society.
This is why Germany intends to regulate the cannabis industry. Not only do cannabis users have a right not to be disenfranchised by being held to a different standard than alcohol users, but the police have a right to provide a better service, the prosecution and the courts have a right to build on proper ethics, families have a right not to be torn apart by dysfunctional and toxic laws, and the nation has a right not to be split by an enemy image that thrives on ignorance.
Indeed, while meting out judgement to scapegoats undermines the integrity of the justice system, society has a right to be free from a morality which feeds on double standards to exist, and ARODs civil disobedience presents an opportunity for the European Court to rule on the validity of the prohibition experiment.
In other cases before the Court, the applicant has accepted that the drug law is necessary to protect society, but AROD claims that cannabis prohibition marks an unreasonable distinction between legal and illegal substances, that this is a case of arbitrary persecution, and that the prohibition must end for the rule of law to make sense.
It takes a human rights analysis to determine the evidence. Article 6 of the ECHR does not only put a responsibility on the state to show that the prohibition fulfils a legitimate purpose but protects the right of the defendant to present evidence and to summon witnesess in his defense.
AROD wanted the Minister of Justice and others responsible for the prohibition to testify on the merits of the prohibtion, and there are more than 100 questions that must be answered. These are the questions into which the Norwegian justice system has stopped all inquiry. Even so, no legal reason has been provided for the courts’ refusal to deal with the relationship between the drug law and human rights, and the European Court must provide a more solid judgement. AROD’s complaint to the Court was lodged on 3 March 2021, and news regarding the proceedings can be found here.
Argument to the European Court
LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK
After 60 years of panic in drug policy, society is waking up to the fact that punishment is incompatible with basic values and principles on which the rule of law is based, and a paradigm shift is happening.
This manuscript explains the connection between public panic, human rights abuses, and the arbitrary persecution of the past. The connection is found in the scapegoat mechanism, which has been known for 40 years in criminology and sociology of law, and in the last 30 years lawyers have recognised the same.
The book not only documents the conflict between politicians and experts but shows that the traditional arguments for prohibition are poor reasons for treating cannabis differently than alcohol. Instead, the questions raised by the rights-oriented debate reveal the parallels to race, homosexuality, and vagrancy laws and that drug prohibition is incompatible with the Western legal tradition.
With civil disobedience, therefore, a battle for rights takes place. A historic settlement in the European Court awaits, and through 100 questions, a confused legal landscape is clarified.
APPLICATION TO THE EUROPEAN COURT
Since 2002, four Norwegian reports attest to the failure of the political process. More and more professionals note the connection between moral panic and human rights violations, and the European Court has a responsibility to the people under its jurisdiction to provide guidance. Within few years, most Europeans will live in a country that regulates the cannabis industry, and the Court must decide (1) if there is a right to use cannabis and (2) if this right includes access to a safe supply.
Both the COE Parliamentary Assembly and the Pompidou Group have lamented the lack of guidance from the Court, and it is time to bring light to a long-ignored area of law. To the extent that a regulated drug market is better to protect public health, the prohibition cannot fulfil a legitimate purpose and several courts have provided judgements, finding that human rights principles invalidate punishment for cannabis use and possession.
No court has yet confirmed a right to safe access, but the wickedness inflicted on society by alcohol prohibition was nothing compared to the prohibition of drugs, and it is therefore not possible to talk about human rights without allowing for a regulated market.
Considering the importance of this case, it should be labelled for more expeditious processing as an "impact" case under the European Court’s new category IV-High. The conclusion of the case might not only lead to a change in or clarification of international or domestic legislation or practice but deals with an emerging or otherwise significant human rights issue, and all criteria are fulfilled.
The willingness or ability of Norwegian officials to answer the questions of the rights-oriented debate should inform the Court’s reasoning, and in the balancing of scales no one should be surprised if the drug dealer is found to be an agent of autonomy, while the policeman is shown to be an agent of tyranny. If so, reparations must be made, and the moral code of society must be calibrated towards more wholesome ideals, values, and principles through a recognition that drug prohibition has been a crime against humanity—a massmovement gone wrong.
Here is ARODs application to the European Court:
Application to the ECtHR (2mb)
Application to the ECtHR with appendices (250mb)
In addition to these documents, the European Court has received the following books:
These highly praised books show how drug prohibition is similar to other social experiments gone wrong.
Human Rising documents the connection between moral panic, arbitrary persecution, and human rights crimes. It demonstrates how powerpolitics and scapegoating maintains a regime of drug prohibition and why the drug laws violate basic human rights protections.
To Right a Wrong completes the discipline of constitutional interpretation, adding psychology to the already accepted terrain (that of political theory). A game-changer in law and constitutional construction, this book shows why 9 out of 10 judges, in cases of controversy, fail to protect fundamental rights. Its part three is a case study that exposes how U.S. courts have mishandled constitutional challenges to the drug law. Drawing on principled reasoning, it details the problem of arbitrary persecution, and the European Court must deal with a crisis of law.
Together, these documents demonstrate the faulty premises of prohibition. On this basis, drug users have challenged the law, and we have questions that must be answered to the satisfaction of an independent, impartial, and competent court.
Here are our questions to the Minister of Justice, and we hope that the European Court does not shy away from controversy.