|Titre :||Cannabis social clubs in Belgium: Organizational strengths and weaknesses, and threats to the model (2015)|
|Auteurs :||T. DECORTE|
|Type de document :||Article : Périodique|
|Dans :||International Journal of Drug Policy (Vol.26, n°2, February 2015)|
|Article en page(s) :||122-130|
|Discipline :||MAR (Marché de la drogue / Drug market)|
Thésaurus TOXIBASECANNABIS ; ETUDE QUALITATIVE ; MARCHE DE LA DROGUE ; SOCIAL ; PRODUCTION ; MODELE
Background: Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) are private organizations or clubs of users that produce cannabis for non-profit distribution to adult members to meet their personal needs without having to turn to the black market. CSCs can be found in many countries, but the term often covers very different empirical realities. Inspired by the Spanish CSCs and similarly taking advantage of a grey area in the Belgian cannabis legislation, Belgian cannabis activists set up the first Belgian CSC in 2006, and there are now at least 5 Belgian CSCs. The paper's main objective is to analyse the (internal) strengths and weaknesses and the (external) opportunities and threats of the model, as it exists today.
Methods: The paper draws on a review of international literature and qualitative data on the Belgian cannabis social clubs. Field visits and interviews were conducted with each club. We analysed membership application forms, cultivation protocols and contracts with growers, cannabis ownership certificates of members, information leaflets, the clubs' websites, and all media articles and documentaries on the clubs in the Belgian media.
Results: The paper describes the membership criteria and house rules, the members' profile, the organization and protocols for cannabis production, the distribution of cannabis through ‘exchange fairs', the administrative features of the clubs and their contacts with other CSCs and with local authorities, the drug sector and the media. Belgian CSCs seem not profit-driven, and operate as a system in which cannabis is not too easily available. The clubs have fairly direct control over the quality and the potency of the cannabis they distribute. The model offers important potential opportunities, in terms of economic advantages and monitoring consumption patterns. The main threats to Belgian CSCs consist of attempts to criminalize the model, the emergence of profit-driven clubs and systemic violence from criminal entrepreneurs. Weaknesses of the model relate to the unstable or transient nature of the clubs, the transparency of their operational procedures, the superficiality of their quality control strategies, and the risk of morphing into marketing enterprises.
Conclusions: The CSC model could be a safe and feasible option for policymakers to move a meaningful distance along the spectrum towards legally regulated cannabis markets without crossing over to full commercial availability. Governmental regulation could convert weaknesses and threats to the model into strengths and opportunities to ensure best practice. If authorities refrain from action, the model might dilute and evolve in a similar way as the Spanish CSCs did recently, with the establishment of large, commercial clubs.
Cannabis clubs organize collective cultivation and distribution of cannabis to cover personal needs of their members.
Cannabis clubs strive for political and legal recognition, but the model has internal strengths and weaknesses.
Cannabis clubs are criminalized by Belgian authorities and threatened by systemic violence from criminal entrepreneurs.
Cannabis Social Clubs offer a feasible opportunity to move a meaningful distance along the spectrum towards legalization.
|Domaine :||Drogues illicites / Illicit drugs|
|Affiliation :||Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD), Ghent University, Belgium|