‘Cannabis Social Clubs are the solution, not the problem’
Members of Mambo Social Club have high hopes for appeal case
HASSELT - On Thursday May 28th, the appeal in the case against Mambo Social Club will be held in the court of Antwerp. Mambo is the second Cannabis Social Club in Belgium and was sentenced by the Court of First Instance last year, for cultivation and possession of cannabis. President and founder of Mambo Social Club, Michel Degens, expects a positive outcome: "CSC's offer a safe alternative to adult consumers who don't want to buy cannabis on the black market. It's a non-profit model of cannabis production and distribution that promotes health, safety and responsibility. CSC's are the solution, not the problem."
Mambo Social Club is one among many Cannabis Social Clubs that currently operate in Europe. Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) are non-profit organisations that produce cannabis collectively and re-distribute it to meet the personal needs of their adult members. Michel Degens: "CSCs have emerged in Europe as the safest and most credible alternative to both undue criminalisation and profit-driven laissez-faire. It's obvious that our laws are outdated and unclear. That is why some members of Mambo are appealing against the groundless criminal sentence of the Hasselt Court of First Instance."
Mambo Social Club has set as its main goal the reduction of the risks and harms associated with the selling of cannabis in the black market. Mambo does not encourage the use of cannabis and it monitors and limits consumption. The organisation takes all possible measures to ensure the eligibility of its members and a wholesome final product. Mambo prohibits re-distribution to non-members; offenders face expulsion and a re-entry ban. Degens: “Cannabis Social Clubs are the solution, not the problem.”
In Belgium as elsewhere in Europe there is a growing desire by both politicians and the scientific community to understand the virtues and opportunities that CSCs present. In the eyes of many experts CSCs offer a safer alternative to models that end up protecting the vested interests of organised crime. In a recent article in the Journal of Drug Policy (26, 2015), professor Tom De Corte, criminologist and drug policy expert at Ghent University, writes that "it is reasonable to expect that the number of CSCs in Belgium will continue to rise in the next few years. As the CSC-movement in Belgium expands, and if CSCs would become a regulated alternative, a significant impact on the black cannabis market could be expected.”
Prof. Decorte adds that “CSCs may help to diminish many of the problems related to the illegal market: the increase of THC content, the adulteration or pollution of cannabis, the prices, systemic violence, street dealing and other forms of illegal trade.” Full legal recognition in Belgium still awaits, but Mambo’s most committed members have high hopes that the judiciary will recognise the need to pursue, and not obstruct, the development and improvement of the model exemplified by Mambo Social Club.