PUBLIC LETTER TO SWISS AUTHORITIES
Dear president of the Helvetian Confederation,
I have been informed of the sentence against André Fürst, founder of the Swiss company Chanvre-Info and member of the Steering Committee of ENCOD, a European coalition of citizens opposed to the war on drugs, to 29 months of prison because of the cultivation and sale of hemp in the period 1998 to 2002.
I am surprised and concerned by this sentence, as I believe Switzerland had installed between 1998 and 2004 a pragmatic regulation model for the production, distribution and consumption of hemp. Various official representatives of Switzerland have issued declarations in this sense, such as former president Ruth Dreyfuss and former and current members of the Federal Council such as Ruth Metzler or Pascal Couchepin. As a result, confusion has been raised about the way the Swiss law on drugs should be interpreted. This confusion has not ended still, as the Swiss parliament is in process of editing a definitive modification of this law, which will probably occur in the next two years.
On the other hand, I have been informed that Chanvre-Info develops and commercialises several products based on hemp which have nothing to do with drugs: products that can be used as food supply, as fibre for plastics, textiles, as a source of energy. These products fit perfectly well in a concept of reasonable and sustainable rural development. I refer you to the following recommendation in the Report of the European Parliament on the future drug strategy of the European Union, approved in December 2004:” take into consideration the possibility of launching pilot projects for the industrial manufacture of legal products derived from plants covered by the 1961 Convention, such as coca leaf and Indian hemp;”
This has been precisely the work of André Fürst. His activities for the global rehabilitation of hemp contribute to the preservation of the planet and the social cohesion in our society. They have nothing to do with the operations of criminal organisations that profit from drug prohibition and damage global economy and peace. Switzerland should be proud of this citizen, not treat him as a criminal.
All over the world, there are enough examples of the irrational and inhuman way in which drug policies are carried out. Switzerland is known as an example of pragmatism and reformism, also concerning drug policies. I request you to do whatever is in your possibilities to make sure André Fürst does not become a victim of a clear form of injustice. In the near future, the prohibition of hemp will be considered as an historical error. The multiple uses of this plant, including the medical uses, accompany the development of human kind for thousands of years. We are in great need of this plant to respond to the ecological, economic and health challenges of the 21st century. In this context, it would be a tragic mistake to imprison André Fürst. As a European citizen, concerned about present drug policies and their implications for human rights, I see it as imperative that this sentence is reviewed.
Présidente de la Confédération Helvétique
Palais fédéral est
CH - 3003 Berne
tél.: 031 324 50 33
fax: 031 323 57 82
http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/dfa/head/contac.html (copy in the formular)