INTER.VIEW to:Fabio Bernabei, National Representative Italy at ECAD – European Cities AgainstDrugs, Director at Osservator...
Dianova Portugal: Do you think the Italians are well informed about the use ofmarijuana?Fabio Bernabei: Please look, in th...
Pro Medical Marijuana Lobby invented a sort of approval based on a majority vote of localpoliticians in Regional Council f...
In fact, we do believe that the use of any illicit drugs is contrary to the personal dignity ofthe human being because the...
Dianova Portugal: What is your opinion on the Portuguese law that decriminalizes[does not legalizes] the consumption and p...
Fabio Bernabei: NORML, and some other well organized Organizations, convey themessage that cannabis is a relatively harmle...
-The End-Dianova Portugal©                     Página 7
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Interview fabio bernabei en_october 2012

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Interview fabio bernabei en_october 2012

  1. 1. INTER.VIEW to:Fabio Bernabei, National Representative Italy at ECAD – European Cities AgainstDrugs, Director at OsservatorioDroga (Italy) and author of “Cannabis Medica. 100Risposti sull’uso terapêutico della Marijuana”.Dianova Portugal: In the preface to ““Cannabis Medica. 100 Risposti sull’usoterapêutico della Marijuana”” (Sugarco Edizioni, 2012) you told that you decided towrite this book due to a “personal experience” [surviving a cancer] in a context of“recognition of the medical marijuana”. Was your book an attempt to challengeand influence the public opinion, telling that not everything is unavoidable?Fabio Bernabei: NO. As I a cancer survivor I learned, among others, two lessons.First, the ill person is a vulnerable one and you have to respect and to protect him not totry to take any ideological advantages of the illness. Politicians and Organizations werefighting in the 60 for a Free Drug Policy, now became fond of some medical therapies forsevere diseases. Thats hardly believable. The Transnational Radical Party, in its manual "IRadicali e le droghe", put the "medical strategy" as one of the possible strategy to get thelegalization of drugs. The less radical strategy, they say, but with a bonus: no panic in thepublic opinion.Second, people with cancer or others severe illnesses deserve the most advanced treatmentbased on the most innovative medical research, not leaves to smoke. In Italy, the RegionalHealth System have no money, just one example, to offer an open full-week radiotherapyin hospitals and many others basic treatments, but some politicians prefer to spendhundreds of thousands of Euros of tax money to give marijuana joints to smoke.Medical cannabis is about ideology not compassion.Dianova Portugal© Página 1
  2. 2. Dianova Portugal: Do you think the Italians are well informed about the use ofmarijuana?Fabio Bernabei: Please look, in the EMCCDA website at the Prevention Profile pagededicated to Italy: the level of Universal Prevention provisions is reported as a long list of"NO information". Its a good picture of the level of knowledge of the Italian people onmarijuana and others illicit drugs. The reason? Well, if you know how serious are Italianpoliticians, you could better understand why they do prefer to use the public money inmany other ways than in effective social policies.Dianova Portugal: How is the debate on medical cannabis going on Italy? How isbeing the reaction from the anti-prohibitionists to this book?Fabio Bernabei: There is no debate in Italy on MM (Medical Marijuana/Cannabis) andthe few information available is in one-way only. Just two Italian books in the last 10 yearshave been published contesting the medical use of cannabis: mine own for the generalpublic, and one for experts "Cannabis e danni alla salute" written by Prof. GiovanniSerpelloni, Director of the National Anti Drug Policy Department. As you can see not somany for a such an important issue.The reaction of anti-prohibitionists people to my book? For many of them the Medicalcannabis is a sort of tabu no one could dare to challenge, so they reacted sometimes in avery aggressive and impolite manner. Others, instead, choose to make ironic comments onthat stupid guy (me) who doesnt understand smoking marijuana will save the world. I dontcare. I prefer to listen the voices of the International Law, the Official Scientific Authoritiesand my conscience.Dianova Portugal: You believe that if medical cannabis was recognized legally anddistributed in the Health National System in Italy, it would increase the production,the selling and the recreational use of this drug. What did you find out in yourresearches about the causes and consequences of the legalization?Fabio Bernabei: The Italian National Health System couldnt provide any substancewithout the approval of the Italian Medicine Agency – AIFA. To avoid the clinical trials theDianova Portugal© Página 2
  3. 3. Pro Medical Marijuana Lobby invented a sort of approval based on a majority vote of localpoliticians in Regional Council for different illnesses and therapies! Tot capita, tot sententiae.Just to say one, about the rising of criminality, in Canada the increase of the Black Market,following the political recognition of smoked marijuana "therapeutic" properties, has beenrecognized by the Supreme Court. The same judges ruled in 2001 in favor of a "regulatedmarket" of MM, now are arguing that happened because the "bureaucracy" and the"quality" of MM from Health Canadas monopoly supplier. The same old story. So afterten years or so the Supreme Court itself, in order to fight the black market, gave order toHealth Canada to wipe out limitations on growing, selling and use of MM. You bet theblack market will boost again more and more as happened every time in the history, whenan illicit and dangerous drugs has been promoted as "miraculous".Dianova Portugal: Is “Cannabis Medica” being translated in other languages?Fabio Bernabei: Not for the moment and its a pity due to the relevance of the topic,affecting all nations worldwide. In English language I suggest to read "Cannabiz. Theexplosive rise of medical marijuana industry", the author, John Geluardi, has a point ofview opposite of mine but that essay is great for quantity and quality of information onwhats really going on now in USA and soon in Europe.Dianova Portugal: Your professional background is the investigative journalism.What is your perception about how the generalized and the specialized media treatthe theme of drug’s production, consumption, distribution and trade? Does it makesense to call you an activist-journalist?Fabio Bernabei: In Italy we have some NGOs and Think Tanks specialized on "drugissue", with their house organs and their level of knowledge is very professional, but still wehave a big gap between them and the mass media.For that I founded the Osservatorio Droga, member of World Federation Against Drugs-WFAD, whose mission in the Media arena is to provide information to the general publicfor a better and deeper understanding of the "Drug issue" with the aim of a Drug-FreeWorld.Dianova Portugal© Página 3
  4. 4. In fact, we do believe that the use of any illicit drugs is contrary to the personal dignity ofthe human being because they alter, sometimes permanently, the cognitive processes. Theintegrity of such cognitive processes is part of the concept of human dignity of being a freeand responsible human person.Dianova Portugal: The main idea of the book is the complete rejection of the use ofcannabis in the medicine. You support that the scientists do not recognize cannabisas a medicine. What should the authorities do with the dangerous legal pillsavailable on the medicinal product market?Fabio Bernabei: You are right. If also the regular medicinal products recognized safe forhuman use after a long series of scientific tests, need a post marketing surveillance to checksuspected adverse reactions, imagine the Cannabis never approved by none of the NationalMedicines Agencies! And, yes we have to increase a continuous monitoring of any kind ofmedicine.Dianova Portugal: As you state, marijuana is a business – amateur or verysophisticated – that generates significant amounts of money. “Cannabis is by farthe most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug”, says the WHO. Howcan the black market and the organized crime be fought back?Fabio Bernabei: How? Prevention! Historically the Mafia organizations started to beinvolved in drug trafficking after the eruption of the mass-scale Drug demand createdpurposely by Beat Generation activists and thinkers. Fighting against the demand, wellstop the Mafia activities, now more than ever based on drug related money.The most successful evidence-based primary prevention comes to us from Iceland. Thanksto a totally new methodology they stopped the rising of the binge drinking and marijuanasmoking with a substance use going down for 10 years steadily and now close to a 1%(more info on www.icsra.net). The secret? Broking the isolation of scientific communityfrom the Government social policies run with a special focus on local community. TheProject "Youth in Europe" set by The Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysisand coordinated by European Cities Against Drugs – ECAD, is now promoting acrossEurope the Iceland experience.Dianova Portugal© Página 4
  5. 5. Dianova Portugal: What is your opinion on the Portuguese law that decriminalizes[does not legalizes] the consumption and possession of all the illicit drugs in smalldoses? A report of Cato Institute says “the Portuguese decriminalization frameworkhas been a resounding success, within this success lie self-evident lessons thatshould guide drug policy debates around the world”.Fabio Bernabei: The Cato Institute invited attorney Glenn Greenwald to conduct a studyof drug policy in Portugal. After only three weeks in Portugal, Greenwald returned to theUnited States and wrote a book characterizing the Portuguese drug policy as a hugesuccess. There were numerous problems with the study including: Greenwald was selectivein the age category he used and largely disregarded the 20 to 24 year old age group in whichdrug use increased 50%.My friend, and collegue in Drug Watch International - DWI, doctor Manuel Pinto Coelho,chairman of the Association for Drug Free Portugal, in reviewing the study, states that “Ifone glances at the numbers related to the prevalence in the total Portuguese population,there isnt a single drug category, not one, that has decreased since 2001. Between 2001 and2007, drug consumption in Portugal increased by 4.2% in absolute term”Portugal remains the country of the highest incidence of IDU (injection drug use) relatedAIDS and it is the only country recording a recent increase. More, the EMCDDA in 2011Surveys show a stable situation regarding cannabis use in Portugal but a possible increase incocaine use among young adults. The country still has high levels of problem drug use andHIV infection and does not show specific developments in its drug situation that wouldclearly distinguish it from other European countries that have a different policy. This issupported by the ONDCP report of 2011 which reviewed the ‘Cato Report’ and found itlacking in accuracy.Dianova Portugal: NORML (The National Organization for the Reform ofMarijuana Laws) – that you refer in your book – has a set of “principles ofresponsible cannabis use”. Within their concerns, they mention rules like “adultonly”, “no driving”, “resist abuse”, “respect rights of others”. Do you think thatthat is possible? Why (not)?Dianova Portugal© Página 5
  6. 6. Fabio Bernabei: NORML, and some other well organized Organizations, convey themessage that cannabis is a relatively harmless drug we could legalize. But when they put inrelation this psychedelic drug with the word "responsible", they are challenging theAristotelic principle of non-contradiction. The cannabis is a psychedelic substance, soaltering the personality and judgment skills of the user, for a short-term or lifetime, moreand deeper than others, stimulant or sedative, drugs. Even less overdoses always damagesthe integrity of the persons character.Dianova Portugal: One of the critics to your “100 answers” is a certain ethnocentricpoint of view about biomedicine and the use of the cannabis plant. Some peopleargue that cannabis is one of the 50 “fundamental” herbs of Traditional ChineseMedicine. How do you answer to these arguments?Fabio Bernabei: I was born and Im living in Rome, a city famous in the history to mergeall the culture and traditions from all over the world. Moreover, Im catholic and I rejectany xenophobic or racist attitude, nevertheless not everything from the past times its true.Relating the Medicinal Marijuana with the Chinese Tradition Herbal Medicine, or othertraditions, its inappropriate because the very few documents we have never reported thesmoked way as a medical use (the most common for Medicinal Marijuana) and for everysingle possible, or supposed, therapeutic needs solved by some cannabis compounds, thecontemporary medical science provided us with a lot of cheap, safe and effectivemedicines.Dianova Portugal: If you had to publish a second edition of “Cannabis Medica”,what would you update or change?Fabio Bernabei: No big changes or particular update, but Id like to write some lines aboutmy personal experience as a "target" of the Pro-Cannabis Medica "fundamentalists". I thinkthat could be useful to be clear in our minds.Dianova Portugal© Página 6
  7. 7. -The End-Dianova Portugal© Página 7

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