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Plaça Major de Vicm

Jaime Prats
Botanist of ARSEC
Representative for the Cannabis Social Club Candidacy

Born in Barcelona in 1958, Jaime Prats spent his youth in the city, finishing high school and going on to the University of Barcelona to earn a master's degree in biology. It is during his student days that Jaime had a fantastic experience while smoking marihuana, looking at himself from the outside, becoming aware of himself. The experience changed him from a young adult lost in the labyrinth of the ultraconservative mentality holding Spain in its grip in the heydays of the Franco regime, to a person aware of his freedom to think and express himself according to his own criteria. Because of that experience and once he had his degree in his pocket, he moved at the age of 24 to Osona, a county some 70 km inland from Barcelona. There he wanted to put his academic knowledge to use in a project for his doctoral thesis on the subculture of cannabis in Catalonia. But the scholarship he needed to carry out the project was denied. Thereupon Jaime decided to forget about further academic pursuits and to focus instead on the cultivation of marihuana, its use and the legal challenges involved.

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While experimenting with the cultivation of cannabis, Jaime got involved with local aficionados of the plant. In those days the consumers were not as yet organized in associations, but Jaime and his friends held yearly festivals which they called Congregaciones Marianas, taking the name of Catholic societies, used since the beginning of the sixteenth century by devout followers of the Virgin Mary.
When in the early nineties the authorities started cracking down on drugs and the public possession of cannabis products became punishable, Jaime and his friends went to Barcelona to join the recently established ARSEC. With his agricultural knowledge and experience, Jaime was able to convince the members to start growing their own plants and stop being dependent on the illegal traffic. That first communal cultivation project ended in a fiasco when the Guardia Civil, the national police force, confiscated all the plants. But the loss of a battle couldn't stop the Catalans and their Spanish companions from continuing to fight the war against their prized 'Maria'.

Aware of the strength and protection organized resistance could provide, in 1996 ARSEC invited representatives of a half-dozen Spanish clubs to Barcelona to form the National Coordinator of Associations for the Normalization of Cannabis (Coordinadora Estatal por la Normalización del Cannabis). In the same year, ARSEC and the Basque country cannabis club Kalamudia, gave the impetus for the reformation of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drugs Policies (ENCOD) into a continent-wide platform centred on consumer-friendly cannabis policies.
The Coordinator did not last long, but during its two years of existence, it campaigned under the slogan "Contra la prohibición, me planto" (Against prohibition, I stand up), using the verb plantarse for its double entendre of planting and standing up for.
In the meantime Prats and a few ARSEC members decided to publish a monthly magazine, Cañamo, to inform about "the culture of cannabis". Its success was so overwhelming that not long afterwards left and right other cannabis publications were launched, causing a wave of information to flood the public media platforms. Since its first edition in 1997, Jaime has been on the administrative board of the magazine, overseeing its outreach to the Spanish language cannabis consumers of Latin America.

With the growing media attention, politicians started taking notice of the cannabis phenomenon, inviting experts to give firsthand information on the subject. So as to be able to respond with a common voice, ARSEC and various other associations formed the National Platform for the use of Cannabis, which defended among other issues, the legalization of public consumption and of "autocultivo" - the right to grow your own provision. Representing the Platform, Jaime Prats told a mixed commission of parliament in 2001:

 

"We are here in representation of part of the consumers of Spain and have come to denounce to this Commission what we consider a democratic deficit, because we are consumers of a plant that has its market totally prohibited and turns us into outlaws each time we want to obtain this consumer product. ... / ... Therefore, we want to transmit to this Mixed Commission studying the drugs problem, the feelings of a significant part of the Spanish population: we hope that we will be taken into account and that the law in question will be repealed and legislation to regulate the new market will be introduced."
 

It is in the climate of tolerance that had developed by the start of the century, that Jaime became the promoter of the idea to have another try at a club for the communal cultivation and tasting of cannabis. Up till that moment, the associations had been allowed to obtain legal personality only as 'study groups' of cannabis. Together with other members of the Cañamo magazine they registered in 2001 the Club of Tasters of Cannabis, the very first club formed with the specific intent of cultivating and consuming the herb inscribed in its statues. Joaquin Blasco, who earlier had contributed with a terrain for communal cultivation in Tarragona, became its first president. The club had a promising start, with lots of enthusiastic members, but running an agricultural project from the center of Barcelona, on top of having a regular job, proved too cumbersome for many of the 'tasting' members. In 2005 Jaime was conferred the presidency of the club and moved its social seat to Osona county, where he resided and could properly take care of the agricultural chores with the help of the local aficionados. It is now registered in the town of Vic, where still today it perfectly serves the purpose it was created for 17 years ago.

But the wave of pro-cannabis sentiment engendered a backlash among the conservative politicians in power, who promised the electorate draconian new laws to stop the spread of cannabis. The conservative party was poised to win in a landslide when, three days before the March 14, 2004 elections, its leader Jose Aznar held the opposition socialist party responsible for a terrorist attack that had just killed over one hundred citizens on a commuter train on the outskirts of Madrid. The public outcry over this outrageous and totally unwarranted claim translated into the historic defeat of the Aznar government and according to some in the cannabis movement a miraculous intervention by Maria in person to save her followers from more persecution.

In 2004-5 Jaime helped Chilean cannabis afficionados launch Cañamo Chile, giving the youthful aficionados of that country the means to organize and articulate their demand for legalisation of the herb. Change has been coming slowly in that transandine country, but the magazine has a huge following on internet that shows the joyful aspects of cannabis culture and steadily convinces the local politicians to change their repressive policies for laws respecting the cannabis lifestyle of the nation's youth.
With the success of the Chilean magazine came demands from other Latin American countries for their own editions, resulting in new publications in Mexico and Columbia, while Uruguay and Costa Rica will also shortly have their own Cañamo platform from which to start their respective national campaigns for the acceptance of the cultivation and consumption of the herb.

2017 was a most memorable year for Jaime and the other Catalan cannabis activists when on the 26th of June, the Catalan parliament approved 119 to 8 (from the obstructionist Popular Party) the Law of Associations of Cannabis Consumers. Fruit of a Popular Legislative Initiative known by the name The Green Rose, the law regulates the production and distribution of cannabis for the consumption of the members of duly registered associations. For almost three months cannabis became 'legal', a liberty that ended abruptly on October 13th, when the national government of the Popular Party, lodged an appeal with Spain's Constitutional Tribunal and the law was automatically suspended. The future of the law is now in the hands of that Tribunal, which is already considering two other national government appeals against similar laws passed in Navarra and the Basque country.
 
 
Jaime, in the middle of the back row, together with other activists and members of the Parlament of Catalunya the day cannabis was legalized in that Autonomous Region.

But Jaime and his fellow aficionados are not waiting for that judicial decision: they have their eyes set on the national parliament, where once and for all cannabis will have to be liberated from the impositions of politicians calling themselves popular while frustrating the popular will.
Wherever the fight for recognition of the right to the herb will lead him, Jaime will be present, in the vanguard, sustained by "the moments of laughter enjoyed with friends or the communion-with-the-all" that Maria offers him. Says Jaime: "I will not stop the fight till we have obtained recognition for our inalienable right to cultivate marihuana for our own use, communally or individually. I remember the marihuana cultivated in Holland for medical marihuana patients according to official regulations. The people that smoked it complained bout getting headaches. And these days, cannabis is being sold in Italy, at very steep prices, and it doesn't even get you high. Marihuana should be grown for one's pleasure and wellbeing, not for somebody else's pocket."

For his ceaseless defence of the plant that gives him a spiritually rewarding life, and to support his ongoing endeavour to help organize marihuana consumers and growers in other Spanish speaking countries and give them a medium to articulate their own defence of the right to cultivate and use the plant, we propose Jaime as a dignant and historic representative for the Cannabis Social Club candidacy for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.