30 years Legalize it! A short review of a long time

We have experienced, followed and shaped many things and seen different phases. Many people have been active, and we have implemented a wide range of projects. We never thought we would last 30 years - and we also had some critical moments. Our secretary Sven looks back.

1991 to 1995 - the beginnings

Five of us founded the association “KifferInnen Gruppe Legalize it!” in 1991. Drug policy was on everyone's lips at the time: the misery around the open drug scenes was glaring. However, we wanted to take care of hemp. Since we were young, 16 to 22 years old, we didn't have much money. Accordingly, all our activities were free work. We organized a big founding party, which brought us a second floor of francs and members. We then held sessions and meetings in various locations, where we exchanged ideas, discussed the situation and considered whether we could change it. For this purpose we distributed tons of information flyers.

We were also co-founders of other organizations such as the cooperative and the association HanfPlus (which at that time already wanted to carry out a project similar to the pilot projects now under discussion, but we did not receive a permit for it). There the first issue of the CannaNet-Magazine: at first with a big editorial staff, but but after the first issue it went to sleep again.

After a few years, it became clear that continuity was difficult to guarantee with volunteer work alone. This has been confirmed until today: Most can be active for a couple of years, or commit themselves intensively to a larger project for a few weeks (e.g., our spring festivals). But then they move on, start families, take big trips, develop other interests, etc. But if an association wants to survive, at least the basic activities have to be guaranteed (mail, infrastructure, membership base, meetings, archives). That is why we organized the first paid position.

1996 to 2000 - first professionalization

In January 1996, I became the secretary of our association. That was a special year, also for me: There I met many other active people and together with ZAGJP we could realize the first edition of Shit happens. During this time, legal issues had become more and more central. There was really a lot to discover and the absurdity was and is great in this area.

At the end of 1996 I had to take another job, because I could not live entirely from the secretarial job. It was also during this time that the scent bag story began: More and more stores appeared, the qualities got better and better. It became more interesting than in Amsterdam.

We were able to rent an office space, which gave us a more stable foundation than the rather scattered and time-limited meeting projects. Now we produced a CannaNet every three months, which we later renamed the magazine Legalize it! later.

2001 to 2004 - the great time

The hemp shop era was approaching its peak around the turn of the millennium. It was also for us “the great time”. I was all secretary again (without a second job), theLegalize it! was produced in four colors and in high editions.

Meanwhile we had a few clubs running in parallel. In 2002 I found the time to clean up and to transfer everything into the association Legalize it!

Those were exciting years. But also sobering: We warned again and again (e.g. at the hemp conferences) that the store history could be killed again by the authorities. But hardly anyone wanted to believe us.

The repression then took its course. Until 2004, store after store in canton after canton was destroyed. The Federal Court had decided that the scent bag story was to be prosecuted as drug hemp after all. Finally, there were hardly any stores left. We called it in the last big Legalize it!: The winter's coming on… With its two “no” votes in 2004, the National Council also buried the hope for a change in the law.

2005 to 2008 - it is currently not possible

At the beginning of 2005, we published the issues that had appeared so far as PDFs on our hanflegal.ch. We had to downsize again, I looked for a second job and switched the Legalize it! to self-printing. We started another attempt to get bigger again (2007), but it was not possible.

The remaining hemp stores still managed to collect a popular initiative, but there were hardly any funds left for the 2008 vote. The result was a clear “no”.

2009 to 2012 - holding the essence

From 20 to 15, then to 10 full-time positions: a steady decline in employment as well as in members was recorded. But we were able to keep the infrastructure (database, office, ICT, archive) and continued to publish Legalize it! issues and maintain our hanflegal.ch, especially with always updated legal info.

In 2012 the question was: Should we let our association rot, which happens to many associations at some point? Or should we at least put a decent end to it? So I gathered my courage once again, collected money, quit my main job and tried again.

2013 to 2015 - the final point?!

The final point was to produce another Shit happens over the summer of 2013. This was and is the most important and dearest project for me. With crowdfunding we were able to cover the printing costs. After the publication of this 9th edition, nothing happened at first.

Then 20Minuten ran a rather oblique article and the Tages-Anzeiger a whole page about it. This led to many new members in one fell swoop. It still amazes me today. So it went on for a few months, then I “invented” the major donation appeals - and as you know, we've been doing them every six to twelve months ever since. And every time, it's been enough again. I am very grateful for that. Because otherwise this new big phase would not have been possible.

2016 to 2018 - the initiative project

Then the desire arose among members to start an initiative again. More than 20,000 signatures were registered in the database. There were also some donations. For a time, we created a second position for this project. But it was not enough to successfully realize such a large project. Since other groups (e.g. young parties, IG Hanf) wanted to participate, the association Cannabis Consensus was founded and we handed over this project. However, whether there will ever be enough forces for such an undertaking is unfortunately still questionable.

During this time we also had our Legalize it! printed externally again, because we needed larger quantities again. The number of pages and the circulation remained lower than before, because of course hanflegal.ch and everything electronic in general had become more and more important.

2019 to date - the current phase

From then on, we focused on the legal issues again. As long as the ban applies, this work is still the most meaningful: With the legal information I can at least help people in a difficult situation in a concrete way. Because if I have learned anything in all these years: The fixed idea that it will soon be legal in Switzerland has persisted over the years. But the reality is different. Things are not moving forward: there are various reasons for this, which I would like to discuss in more detail in 2021. The repression, however, is real. Therefore, we produced more editions of the Shit happens (we are now on the 13th edition). Currently we have refreshed the Legalize it! layout and also our hanflegal.ch. The attempt to at least set a nice ending has now turned into the longest and biggest phase. For almost eight years now I have been fully active for our association again. In total, it is 25 years as secretary: an incredibly long, exciting and formative time.

I would especially like to thank Alain, Stefan, Pam, Philip, Tom, Samuel, Merlin, Ramun, Polo, Bruno, Hans, Markus, François, Mauro, Felix, André, Manu, Annemarie, Carmen, Elmar, Hitsch, Juliane, Tünde, Fabian, Ben, Matthias, Sarah, Peter, Priska, Joël, Ruth, C-K, Sheron, Raphael, Rebecca, Sandra, Nino, Markus, Christoph, Lea, Michael and all our members. Merci!

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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