Cannabis Culture Awards 2012

By: Kevin, June 11, 2012

The Cannabis Culture Awards are conferred to those who have “distinguished themselves in the struggle for acceptance of Cannabis in all of its forms, working to ensure that this extraordinary plant has a future where it is fully utilized and a history that is fully known.”

The Cannabis Culture Awards are conferred to those who have “distinguished themselves in the struggle for acceptance of Cannabis in all of its forms, working to ensure that this extraordinary plant has a future where it is fully utilized and a history that is fully known.”

Times are changing. While several European nations are realizing that drug policies need to change, one of the founders of a tolerant approach to drug use (most specifically our favorite green plant) is making a 180-degree turn, progressively establishing an increasingly repressive policy: the Netherlands. While many thought that the extravagant claims of the Dutch government would eventually by dispelled by the lack of rational thought behind it, we were wrong. 

The plan to close coffeeshop doors to non-Dutch residents is in place. It is now active in the southern part of the country and is scheduled to go nationwide as of January, 2013. It seems the majority of smokers will simply turn towards growing their own. It is sad that think that these people will now have to risk legal prosecution simply in order to avoid having to use the low quality and potentially dangerous products that will readily be available… back on the street. 

Award winners with Ben Dronkers in Amsterdam (Photo: Claudio)

Despite this gloomy turn of events, there are a few who have decided to celebrate the achievements taking place over the last few years. There are those who, through their achievements, have helped shift the misinformation and irrationality surrounding the use of Cannabis, or drugs in general. In order to celebrate this, Amsterdam's Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum (founded by Ben Dronkers) has organized the Cannabis Culture Awards. 

This honor was previously known as the Cannabis Cultuurprijs, awarded to Cannabis pioneers including former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt, responsible for the Dutch tolerant stance; Ed Rosenthal; Eagle Bill, inventor of the 'Shake and Vape'; Dutch poet Simon Vinkenoog, Dr. Hans-Georg Behr and Jack Herer. All these honorees have had an impact upon how we view and use the Cannabis plant. 

This year, the awards were presented via two major events. The first took place in the stunning Bethaniënklooster monastery in Amsterdam on April 26th; the second occurred in Barcelona, Spain on May 9th in the beautifully refurbished Palau Mornau, now home to the brand new Hemp Museum Gallery. 

It was former winner Dries van Agt who opened the first act with a speech, in which he openly attacked the repressive approach taken by the government, labeling it “devastative nonsense.” He then awarded the first accolade to Dutch psychiatrist Frederick Polak, MD, tireless activist and an authority in the field of drug use. Dr. Polak naturally expressed his gratitude for the award, but quickly expressed his frustration with the political direction taken by the authorities, claiming the recent fall of the Dutch government would hopefully “lead to the termination of the new rules for coffeeshops and the so-called ‘weed pass’”. 

The second award was bestowed upon the Global Commission on Drug Policy, represented by many former heads of state (including Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico, and Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations) for publishing the report War on Drugs in June, 2011. The prize was accepted by Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs in Norway, and one of the moving forces behind the changes in approach to drugs in Norway. “Hope is almost as important as life itself,” he concluded after accepting the award. 

Sir Richard Branson accepting on behalf of the GCDP (Photo:

Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, accepted the award on behalf of the Global Commission on Drug Policy during the Barcelona ceremony. Despite not having been able to stay at the ceremony for long, Sir Branson took the time to be led through the museum by Ben Dronkers himself before being presented the award. Following a question from the crowd, he clarified that he disagreed with the recent tactics employed in Holland: “I will get in touch with the commission to make sure we put out a statement, a very strong statement, saying how big of a mistake it was.” 

Lester Grinspoon, Professor Emeritus from Harvard University, was also awarded a Cannabis Culture Award. He was unable to attend the ceremony due to ill health but a video conference was shown in which he accepted his award, thanking the Dronkers family for preserving Cannabis genetics through their seed bank, Sensi Seeds, and emphasizing the importance this plant has as a medical resource. 

Another award was granted to Todd McCormick (American activist, author and photographer) by the co-founder of Cañamo magazine, Moisés López, for his efforts in countering misinformation and striving for the recognition of medical Cannabis. He gave a heart-felt speech in which he called for Cannabis supporters to get out of their comfort zones and step up to push the movement further along. He also congratulated Ben Dronkers on his Museum and his work in allowing people to learn about the Cannabis plant’s past, present

2012 award winner Fernanda de la Figuera (Photo:

and future. 

The final distinction was awarded to Spanish Cannabis activist Fernanda de La Figuera – the first person to be acquitted for Cannabis cultivation in Spain – who later became involved in regulating Cannabis laws by founding and taking part in diverse European initiatives, including the F.A.C. and ENCOD (European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies). She was loudly applauded when she was presented the award, clearly supported by the attending crowd. She explained the necessity of social clubs in Spain and the importance of helping people obtain the medicine they need. 

The Cannabis Culture Awards were a clear message to the world stating that, despite the misinformation and concealment still restricting people’s ability to access and learn about the Cannabis plant, there are still those activists whose dedication and efforts will allow for progress and a greater understanding to prevail.

The only question remaining is, will you do your part?

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