Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard BransonCannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard Branson

Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 in Amsterdam

The Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 were awarded in both Amsterdam and Barcelona. During a festive and moving ceremony in Amsterdam, two former statesmen, Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg and Mr. Dries van Agt, expressed their hope for a future without cannabis prohibition. ‘Hope is almost as important as life itself’, said Stoltenberg, after accepting the Cannabis Culture Award on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Mario Lap, Frederik Polak, Thorvald Stoltenberg, Ben Dronkers and Dries van AgtMario Lap, Frederik Polak, Thorvald Stoltenberg, Ben Dronkers and Dries van Agt
Amsterdam ceremony

On 26 April 2012, the Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 were awarded by former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt, during a festive ceremony, in the Bethaniënklooster in Amsterdam. The ceremony was hosted by presenter and journalist Hanneke Groenteman. Cannabis lawyer and director of the Drugtext Foundation, Mario Lap, provided a lecture.

Winners included Norwegian elder statesman Thorvald Stoltenberg, on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and Dutch psychiatrist and drug policy activist Frederik Polak. Finally an award was presented to the legendary Dr. Lester Grinspoon. Because of his inability to travel a Skype interview with museum director Ben Dronkers was shown.
 

Opening Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum by Hedy DAnconaOpening Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum by Hedy DAncona
a third highlight

In addition to a cash prize of three thousand euros, each winner also received a special photo collage. These were unveiled in the atmospheric Hemp Gallery, where Edith Ringnalda, wife of former winner Simon Vinkenoog (2008) read out the poem The Optimist Creed, written by her deceased husband. The afternoon was given a third highlight, when former Dutch Minister of Health, Science and Culture, Hedy d'Ancona, reopened the recently renovated Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum Amsterdam.
 

Thorvald Stoltenberg and Dries van AgtThorvald Stoltenberg and Dries van Agt
Report of the event

During a festive and moving ceremony, the Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 were awarded in Amsterdam. Two former statesmen, Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg, former minister of Defense of Norway and Mr. Dries van Agt, former Prime minister of the Netherlands, expressed their hope for a future without cannabis prohibition. ‘Hope is almost as important as life itself’, said Stoltenberg, after accepting the Cannabis Culture Award on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Former CCA winner Dries van Agt handed him the award and complimented Mr. Stoltenberg on his groundbreaking work in this commission as well as in Norway.

Mr. Van Agt played a key role in establishing the world famous Dutch tolerance policy on cannabis. He was very outspoken in his criticism of recent policy changes in the Netherlands. ‘This policy change to more repression, or even “zero tolerance”, is devastating nonsense’ van Agt said.

Ben Dronkers en Lester GrinspoonBen Dronkers en Lester Grinspoon

Cannabis Culture Award winner 2012, Lester Grinspoon is an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a respected and world reknown spokesperson for cannabis. Sadly, he was unable to travel to Amsterdam to receive his award. Fortunately, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum was able to arrange a video conference between the Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam and the library of the Harvard Medical School where Lester Grinspoon first started his research. During this meeting, Grinspoon thanked Ben Dronkers for establishing the Sensi Seed Bank and for preserving cannabis varieties and genetics.

Dronkers made reference to the publication of his now classic book 'Marijuana Reconsidered' which was published in 1971. This book was an enormous source of inspiration and moral support for Ben Dronkers in his undertaking to restore the cannabis plant to its previous glory: as a medicine, industrial resource for thousands of products and - naturally - as a recreational drug.

Ben DronkersBen Dronkers

Other Cannabis Culture Award Winner, Psychiatrist Frederick Polak, is one of the founders of the Dutch VOC (Association for the lift of the ban on cannabis) and a recognised authority in the ongoing international debate on drugs and drug policy. Commenting on the most recent political developments, he said: “The resignation of the Dutch government will hopefully lead to termination of the new rules for coffeeshops and the so-called ‘weedpass’.”

On stage, Ben Dronkers lamented the low presence of the Dutch media, usually over active when it comes to presenting cannabis in a negative light. “... and if ever you have a chance to tell your story on television, you get three minutes time to rectify 70 years of lies."

The Norwegian press itself was present at the event to report on this unique ceremony; in Norway, Thorvald Stoltenberg is perceived as a modern founding father.

Edith RingnaldaEdith Ringnalda

Following the award ceremony, the audience and participants were invited to the Hemp Gallery located nearby, where a group of cannabis celebrities were also present to enjoy the Edith Ringnalda’s poetry recital of the Optimist Creed, a text which perfectly represented the feeling of hope and optimism permeating the event.

Ringnalda is the widow of Simon Vinkenoog who won the Cannabis Cultuur Prijs, the former version of the Cannabis Culture Awards. Her recital preceded the unveiling of the collages of the winners which were unveiled by Ben Dronkers and his daughter, Shiva.

Hedy dAncona and Thorvald StoltenbergHedy dAncona and Thorvald Stoltenberg

The sun finally broke through the clouds, a perfect timing for the closing act of the ceremony: the grand (re)opening of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum.

After close to 4 years of renovations, the Museum is ready for the 21st century. Every Dutch national and tourist needs to visit it: the unbelievable collection is presented in a tasteful and playful way. The Museum previously attracted more than 100,000 visitors per year but this number should quickly be surpassed. This venue is not only unique, it has also taken an international dimension.

The official opening was performed by Hedy D'Ancona, former Dutch minister and member of the European Parliament, who did so with an open hearted speech; cannabis having brought her much throughout the years. She praised the courageous tasks undertaken by Thorvald Stoltenberg , mentioning how much she had learnt from the Scandinavian approach to drugs while working as minister. "You are nothing less than a hero, Mr Stoltenberg", she exclaimed.

 

Audience at the openingAudience at the opening

The crowd loudly applauded when she announced her hope that the politicians would realise there was but one beneficiary from the ban on cannabis: the international mob. "Long live freedom!"

Other guests of the event included grow guru Ed Rosenthal, who opened the museum together with Ben Dronkers in 1986, Nicole Maalsté, cannabis activist, Todd McCormick, Egbert Tellegen, Bulldog-founder Henk de Vries, Mila Jansen and Henk Poncin, VOC chairman and founder of the Cannabis College.

Once again, the Dronkers family confirms their dedication to the Dutch and international cannabis culture through the Cannabis Culture Awards, the Museum, Hempflax and, not to be forgotten, the Sensi Seed Bank. Because it is important to remember that everything revolves around those small seeds, the seeds of the mother plant: Cannabis Sativa.

Additional media: