CANNABIS CULTURE – Cannabis Culture talks pot politics and publishing with the editors of Hungarian marijuana magazine Cannabis Kultusz.
Cannabis Kultusz is like the Cannabis Culture of Hungary. The marijuana-themed magazine is almost three years old and prints 10,000 copies, distributed all over Hungary, including in grow shops and festivals. The magazine has four full time employees with several colaborators.
It was a cloudy day in Budapest when we arrived at the office of Cannabis Kultusz. I met with magazine director Gábor Luckács and editor and contributor Tamás Kardos, and started the conversation with them by asking about the genesis of the publication.
Cannabis Culture: Tell us about Cannabis Kultusz.
Cannabis Kultusz: (Translated from Hungarian) In Hungary there has not been a magazine like ours and the laws of this country allowed us the possibility of doing it. There are no magazines that educate people about cannabis. The idea was there for a long time but nobody dared to publish it before us.
Everybody in Hungary knows there are thousands of consumers of cannabis and our point is not to condone or condemed the use of marijuana, we want to educate people about how can they use marijuana. That is why we have good relationships with organizations that are dedicated to harm reduction and treatment of drug addicts.
We know there are up to a quarter of a million people that consume marijuana every weekend in our country, that is why we started the magazine. Nobody talks to these thousands of consumers, they just tell them not to smoke, but nobody informs the users that don’t have an abuse problem. The governments regulate tobacco and alcohol but about marijuana they just say it cannot be consumed. We also want to prevent any harms related to marijuana; we want people to use it responsibly. For us, it is better if you cultivate your own plants than to buy from dealers. If it is your plant, you know what you are smoking, the quality is good, you reduce the social risk and the risks to your body.
CC: Is it legal to grow your own marijuana plants in Hungary?
CK: It is not legal, but if you have less than five plants it means that you only have a small quantity, so the police will confiscate your plants and send you to treatment, even though you don’t have a problem with your consumption. It is a waste of money to society and to taxpayers. If you have less than 15 grams they can send you for a treatment as well, although if you are lucky the policemen can let you go.
That is why we critize the government, because if somebody cultivates, police should not interfere. We like the Spanish system where police don’t bother you if you have a few plants. We don’t need to have full legalzation in Hungary, but we could start to let people grow their plants like they grow tomatos or paprika. This would be more logical for society and for law enforcement officers and judges.
We have a lot of partners and contributors in the magazine that belong to NGOs or to the government and we all look for the same ultimate goal: harm reduction. There is a nine-year strategy implemented by the previous government to prevent drugs, we were there advising the parliament with our opinions and knowldege. This strategy consists of how can we develop a good prevention program to reduce harm and to have a less intrusive police presence.
CC: What is going to happen with the conservative political party FIDESZ, the new party in the government?
CK: Like all the Christian political parties, they will likely harden the laws and make the punishment harsher and more strict. Most surely they will not decriminalize or legalize marihuana. But I also believe that it would be a grave mistake of FIDESZ if they make the laws even stricter because it is a popular party and its base is very heterogeneous and among its voters are a lot of people who enjoy smoking a blunt. FIDESZ doesn´t want to lose those votes. I don´t think FIDESZ is going to witch-hunt the consumers, but they might go after the ones who smoke in the streets, they want to make them disappear, put them under the rug. Hide the consumers.
In Hungary, the big parties don’t talk about the problems of drug addiction because they are afraid of facing the problem. The smaller parties are the ones that are tackling the issue.
A deputy of the Christian Democrats denounced the magazine to a court about a year ago, his well-known intentions are that we don’t publish the magazine anymore. I don’t know how can they censor us on the internet and in our printed form – we like to think that there is still freedom of the press. The Christians don’t want a magazine that says positive things about cannabis and they will take action against the media that do. Police investigated us and the result was that we didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t break any laws, and they could not find anything illegal.
FIDESZ wants to have more control over the media. In the end, if the new government manages to change the law to censor what we say about the use of marijuana, we would have to change the format of the magazine to adapt to the new laws and they will still find nothing.
CC: In a perfect world, how do see marijuana laws?
CK: In a perfect world there would be no marijuana laws, there would not be any laws against the press and the media. In a perfect world those who need marijuana would be able to buy it, and buy seeds and cultivate it. Government does not have the right to prohibit it because it is a very private thing. In my opinion there should only be regulations about the production of medical marijuana. The government should give marijuana to the sick, instead of treating them with Marinol and other similar syntetic products. Only to assure the quality of marijuana and to supply it to the ill the government should be involved. Nothing else. If everybody had their own marihuana, there would not be the need for traffickers and dealers. The government doesn’t need to use brutal force. If everybody had their plants, nobody woud have to pay 2000 or 2500 Forints per gram, slowly crime regarding drugs would disappear.
Visit Cannabis Kultusz online at http://www.ckmagazin.info