European Cities Promoting Harm Reduction
In Europe it is the city governments which have taken the lead and are
dragging their federal counterparts into ending the war on their citizens.
Way back in ‘93 the City of Frankfurt applied to do a research
project in which one hundred “long term heroin addicts” would be
provided with legal heroin.
The German National Health Authority denied the city permission, so
Frankfurt took them to court, and recently won a decision against them. The
court ruled that the permit was denied for purely political reasons,
and that the Health Authority must review their decision, keeping in mind the
court’s position. Way to go Frankfurt!
Frankfurt is the home of the Frankfurt Resolution, which it created
along with the cities of Amsterdam, Zurich and Hamburg in 1990. The Frankfurt
Resolution states that drug related problems are “primarily the result of
the illegality of drug consumption.” Like the Chief Coroner’s
Report, it recommends that “purchase, possession and consumption of
cannabis no longer constitute a criminal offense,” and that users
of other illegal drugs “are not punished for the purchase,
possession and consumption of small quantities of drugs for their own personal
Unlike the Chief Coroner’s Report, the Frankfurt Resolution has received
widespread support from municipal and regional governments, and has been
signed by over twenty cities from eight countries.
The city council of Turin, Italy, voted on September 10 to support
national drug policy reform, including complete legalization of marijuana
and legal prescription of heroin. Turin, an industrial city in the
shadow of the Alps and home to car giant Fiat, has long been plagued by
urban drug problems, and has come to realize that it cannot solve these
problems with continued prohibition.
On October 22, one hundred Italian members of Parliament endorsed a draft law
legalizing the sale and consumption of marijuana and hashish in
licenced outlets. The effort was led by Franco Corleone, Secretary of State
for Justice, and most of those who backed it came from the centre-left
“We want to create a liberal legislation like the one they have in the
Netherlands,” Corleone said. Since 1993, possession of small
quantities of soft drugs in Italy has only been punished by non-criminal
measures, such as withdrawal of passport or driver’s license.
On August 19, the canton of Zurich approved a proposal to have a
national referendum of the question of legalization of marijuana and
Councillor Franziska Frey-Wettstein introduced the motion, and
explained that “the State must control the market and guarantee the
quality of the product.”
Health Director Verena Diener added that the initiative was a message
to the federal government, and “a step towards the demystification
Luxembourg & Belgium
The tiny kingdom of Luxembourg surprised its neighbours on August 30,
when its Parliament voted to open talks with Belgium and Holland about forming
a “three-nation Benelux zone” where marijuana can be smoked
Luxembourg boasts the highest average income of any nation on Earth,
and the police still clamp down on possession of hard and soft drugs alike.
Harm reduction projects like needle exchange are technically illegal,
although some do operate openly and without police interference.
Belgium currently has a Parliamentary Committee studying the issue, but
Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte has often spoken out against any
tolerance of drug use. Belgium is also under pressure from France not
to decriminalize, as France is Europe’s harshest critic of Dutch drug