Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 (Cannabis Cultuurprijs) Winners:
The Global Commission on Drug Policy (represented by Sir Richard Branson and Thorvald Stoltenberg), Dr. Lester Grinspoon and Dr. Frederick Polak
Global Commission on Drug Policy The purpose of The Global Commission on Drug Policy is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy will build on the successful experience of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy convened by former presidents Cardoso of Brazil, Gaviria of Colombia and Zedillo of Mexico. Persuaded that the association between drug trade, violence and corruption was a threat to democracy in Latin America, the Commission reviewed the current ‘war on drugs’ policies and opened a public debate about an issue that tends to be surrounded by fear and misinformation.
Thorvald Stoltenberg is a member of The Global Commission on Drug Policy. He has been Defense- and Foreign minister of Norway, Ambassador to the United Nations, UN head representative mediator to Balkan from 93 – 96, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ambassador to Denmark and President of the Norwegian Red Cross. For the five Nordic Government’s he made a report in 2009 with proposals for closer foreign and security policy cooperation between the Nordic countries.
In June 2010 he finished a commission for the Norwegian government, chairing a commission that delivered a report on new drug policy for Norway.
Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate of more than 400 companies. He founded Student magazine at the age of 16 and would later go on to establish a record label, music stores, a railway company, an airline and even a business offering trips to outer space. In 2007, Time Magazine included Branson in its list of the world's 100 most influential people.
Branson is a member of The Global Commission on Drug Policy and sits on the Honorary Board of the Drug Policy Alliance. He is one of the most eloquent and famous advocates for the decriminalisation of cannabis. An important cornerstone of Branson’s business success has been to recognise when a strategy is not working and to have the foresight to change direction when the situation requires it.The war on drugs is a failed enterprise as far as Branson is concerned.
This is why he thinks that governments need to learn from the failures of drug policy and have the courage to enact better solutions.
Dr. Lester Grinspoon - Dr Lester Grinspoon is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Now one of the most respected and outspoken proponents of cannabis, Dr Grinspoon originally set out to prove it was a harmful drug. In 1967 he began research to scientifically define the dangers of marijuana. His studies led him to a surprising conclusion, the opposite of his hypothesis. Cannabis was not the dangerous drug that he, and the general public, had been led to believe it was. His book 'Marijuana Reconsidered' (1971) reflected this reversal of opinion and was followed by several more, including ´Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine´ in 1993.
Dr. Fredrick Polak
One of the most experienced and respected Dutch psychiatrists in the field of drug use, Frederick Polak worked in the drug department of the municipal health services (GGD) for thirteen years and has written and co-authored numerous articles and reports including 'Drugsbeheersing door Legalisatie' (Drug Management through Legalisation), 'Thinking About Drug Law Reform: Some Political Dynamics of Medicalization', and 'American Criticism of Dutch Drug Policy Unfounded'. He continues to appear at many conferences and public events throughout Europe as a highly informed yet down-to-earth speaker who clearly argues his point that drug prohibition is actually counterproductive to protecting the health of the general public. He is on the Board of Directors of Stichting Drugsbeleid (The Netherlands Drug Policy Foundation).
During a festive and moving ceremony in Amsterdam, the Cannabis Culture Awards were awarded to the winners of 2012. Two former statesmen, Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg, former minister of Defense of Norway and Mr. Dries van Agt, former Prime minister of the Netherlands, expressed their hope for a future without cannabis prohibition. "Hope is almost as important as life itself", said Stoltenberg.
Mr. Stoltenberg accepted the Cannabis Culture Award on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Former CCA winner Dries van Agt handed him the award and complimented Mr. Stoltenberg on his groundbreaking work in this commission as well as in Norway. Mr. Van Agt played a key role in establishing the world famous Dutch tolerance policy on cannabis. He was very outspoken in his criticism of recent policy changes in the Netherlands. "This policy change to more repression, or even "zero tolerance", is devastating nonsense", van Agt said.
Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, was unable to travel to Amsterdam to receive his award. Thankfully, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum was able to arrange a video conference between the Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam and the library of the Harvard Medical School where Lester Grinspoon first started his research.
The third Cannabis Culture Award Winner, Psychiatrist Fredrick Polak, commented on the most recent political developments:
"The resignation of the Dutch government will hopefully lead to termination of the new rules for coffeeshops and the so-called "weedpass"."