Immediate release for Martin Barriuso and his two fellow activists

17 November 2011

The arrest of Barriuso and two fellow activists of Pannagh is uncalled for. They should be released immediately.

Martin Barriuso, the president of of Pannagh and the Federation of Cannabis Associations (FAC) in Spain and two fellow activist from Pannagh have been arrested for drug trafficking on Monday, November 14, 2011. TNI wishes to express its support for the demand to immediately release of Barriuso and his fellow activists. Pannagh always has been transparent in their wish to create a regulated cannabis distribution system among adults to prevent a criminal black market.

Martin Barriuso is one of the main promoters of Cannabis Social Clubs in Spain. He recently wrote a briefing for TNI on Cannabis social clubs in Spain. Pannagh released a statement demanding the immediate release of Barriuso and his fellow activists. Pannagh has always showed the will to co-operate with the authorities. There is no need for detention or other acts of this kind.

Apart from the obvious damage this police action is causing to the normal functioning of Pannagh and its members, the detention of Martin Barriuso will also mean he is not able to appear at the Global Initiative for Drug Policy Reform, to be launched at the House of Lords on November 17, where he was expected to present the model of the Spanish cannabis clubs.

Pannagh has never been involved in drugs trafficking or dealing. It is a social movement fighting for a legal regulation of cannabis. The association is a real alternative for more than 300 cannabis users who have decided to disconnect totally from the black market and a vital necessity for 120 people who use cannabis with a medical certificate as a palliative.

This is not the first time Barriuso has been arrested. In 2005, he and two other members of the association were detained for three days and had their cannabis crop confiscated. A few months later, however, the courts ruled that there had been no crime as it concerned consumption between users in which there was no transmission to other parties and ordered the police to return the confiscated plants.

About the authors

Tom Blickman

Tom Blickman (1957) is an independant researcher and journalist, based in Amsterdam. Before coming to TNI he was active in the squatters and solidarity movements in Amsterdam. He worked for Bureau Jansen & Janssen, a research institute on intelligence and police matters. Now he specialises in International Drug Control Policy and Organised Crime as a researcher at TNI's Drugs & Democracy Programme.

Recent publications from Drugs and Democracy

The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition

Cannabis was condemned by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as a psychoactive drug with “particularly dangerous properties” and hardly any therapeutic value. Ever since, an increasing number of countries have shown discomfort with the treaty regime’s strictures through soft defections, stretching its legal flexibility to sometimes questionable limits.

Cocaine: towards a self-regulation model

By taking cues from users’ self-regulation strategies, it is possible to design innovative operational models for drug services as well as drug policies, strengthening Harm Reduction as an alternative approach to the disease model.


Eyes Wide Shut: Corruption and Drug-Related Violence in Rosario

In Rosario, Argentina, the presence of criminal organisations involved in drug trafficking was a low priority for the government until New Year’s day 2012, when the killing of three innocent civilians by members of a gang sparked press attention.

First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum Yangon 2013

In July the First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum was held, bringing together some 30 representatives of local communities involved in opium cultivation and local community workers from the major opium growing regions in Southeast Asia.