Appeals for Vanuatu to seek dialogue with Poland on kava ban

Vanuatu’s former Ambassador to the European Union is appealing to the government to seek dialogue with the Polish Ambassador in Canberra to discuss the kava ban in Poland.

Roy Micky Joy says the government should send a diplomatic note through the Vanuatu High Commission in Canberra to make this happen.

Poland is warning travellers not to bring the mild sedative into the country as kava is classified alongside hard drugs like cocaine.

This is despite Poland being part of the European Union which has recently resumed importing kava.

Mr Joy said he questioned why 26 members of the European Parliament stay silent on the issue of kava while one member, Poland, bans the drink from its shores.

He said Poland’s kava ban goes back to 2005, and that may allow Vanuatu and Poland to engage in political dialogue towards finding an amicable solution to the kava ban.

Call for dialogue over kava ban

Former Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy championed market access for kava in EU, By Len Garae
Former Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy championed market access for kava in EU, By Len Garae

The issue of kava in the 27-member European Parliament has been agreed to as a “bilateral issue” and according to Vanuatu’s former Dean of Ambassadors to the EU, Roy Mickey Joy, this is understood.

Regarding Poland’s position on kava, the former senior diplomat says, “My advice is for the Vanuatu Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to request through a diplomatic note through the Vanuatu High Commission in Canberra to the Polish Embassy in Canberra, to kick-start the process of dialogue. That is the first part.

“The second part, I think the work done by the ACP and EU through the consultants who were engaged for many years on kava (before, during and after the ban) and the great work that’s been done through the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO in Rome, is an adequate representation of the technical scientific work that’s been completed on kava and there should be no issue on this.

“We respect the sovereignty of a sovereign states like Poland therefore it is to the interest of Vanuatu that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs establish dialogue with the Polish Embassy in Canberra, with a view to concluding the issue as soon as possible.”

He says the European Parliament will soon debate the issue of kava entering all EU member states including Poland.

While that may proceed soon, he advises, “I think it is of great interest that the Government of Vanuatu ought to intervene through a diplomatic note through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as possible, with a view to open up dialogue leading to the Polish Government taking a positive position on the issue of kava”.

He describes the situation on kava in Poland as “paradoxical” for 26 member states to keep silent on the issue and allow Poland to “raise its own flag on kava”.

“I do not know how many ni-Vanuatu live in Poland but I know for a fact that there are Polish kava consumers in Poland and that is something I realized when I was still in Brussels,” he says.

He is confident the issue regarding kava in Poland is an ideal opportunity for political engagement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Polish Embassy in Canberra to find a long lasting solution to facilitating market access of kava to Poland.

During the EU/ACP Joint Council of Ministers Meeting in Port Vila in 2012, then Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, capitalized on the delegates present to invite approximately 80 of them to drink kava for the first time at his nakamal at Teouma.

 “As Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the EU, I was also present and our diplomatic guests were treated to one of the best kava in the world, prepared and served in Pentecost traditional way through ‘bwasisi’ and nobody died, and some of them went back to Brussels with kava powder, while others came to the Vanuatu Embassy and asked for kava and I told them, ‘Sorry we don’t sell kava in the Embassy’.

“That kava session at Teouma was a major public relations breakthrough that the Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa did,” he explains.

The kava ceremony also broke the ice to prove to the EU/ACP delegates that kava was not harmful to the drinker.

It was later used as evidence in the German court to throw the DfArM allegation out the window that kava made the drinker sick.

Source: DailyPost Vanuatu

Kava Banned in Poland

Promoter of Vanuatu and Vanuatu kava in Poland, Dawid Chajman, is advising everyone entering his country to be “very, very careful” and not bring even one kilogram of kava saying, they stand the risk of being jailed because kava remains a highly dangerous drug.

Even though Poland is a full member of the European Union, kava has been banned in his country since 2005.

He says the situation in Poland is very different to the one in Germany.

Kava was banned back in 2005 when the Polish Government was trying to fight against the so called “legal highs” and “new drugs”.

Chajman explains, “It created a very long list of psychoactive substances and without giving any explanation, it was decided that kava would become listed in the same category as heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, LSD and so on.

“In other words, kava is officially classified as the most dangerous drug the consumption of which is not allowed under any circumstances.

“Technically speaking, there is no legal difference between transporting one kilogram of heroin and one kilogram of kava through Poland, so this is something that travelers from Vanuatu should be aware of.

“From what we know, Poland is the only country in Europe with such restrictive regulations concerning kava and the only country in the world where mere possession of kava can result in a prison sentence.

“Kava has never been particularly popular in Poland and very few people know what it is, which means that even many officials are unaware of the ban but it is still technically part of the legislation and the penalties are technically potentially so harsh that one should be really, really careful.”

A few years ago a group of friends of Vanuatu and friends of kava established ‘The Campaign to relegalize kava in Poland’ (Facebook page and tried to persuade the Government to change its stance, but so far their success has been limited.

“We have the backing of a couple of members of parliament and last year we managed to persuade the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate’s office to issue a declaration supporting relegalization we heed to actually persuade the Ministry of Health and the relevant parliamentary committee.

“That declaration was important because the Sanitary Inspectorate analyzed kava and found it to be safe and not posing any kind of significant threat to health or social order.

“But we do need more political support for any change to happen.

“Some of us have tried to get in touch with Ambassador Roy Micky Joy to support our struggle, but he has not replied to our correspondence.”

Meanwhile, a report from the New York Times on December 21, 2017 reported that kava growth in terms of consumption has been rapid in New York in the United States of America.

The New York Times reported that New York didn’t have a kava bar until 2015. Since then, growth has been rapid.

“It’s blown up — just through word of mouth it really took off faster than we expected,” said Harding Stowe, a founder of Brooklyn Kava.

“I think people can really use it in New York, almost more than they need it over there.

”There are so many people here that are overworked and just stressed,” Stowe told the New York Times.

According to the New York Times, while United States regulators have issued health advisories related to its consumption in the past, kava has never been a controlled substance under the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Controlled Substances Act or New York State regulations.

Source: Vanuatu DailyPost

EU Kava Market On

Vanuatu Government OFficials dealing with Kava Processing
Vanuatu Government OFficials dealing with Kava Processing

Former Ambassador to the European Union Roy Micky Joy and German Scientist Dr. Mathias Schmidt who have fought tooth and nail to defend the Pacific kava market in the European Union since the kava ban came into effect in 2002, have confirmed the German Court has ruled beyond reasonable doubt and told BfArM they have nothing to argue.

What it means is that the door is once again open for kava exporters to export kava to the European market, ending 17 years of kava ban.

Dr. Schmidt who runs a private laboratory in Berlin says, “Today (yesterday) we mark major progress in our fight for the rehabilitation of kava in Europe.

“After the last meeting with the regulatory authority BfArM in court on October 23, the court had called for a lift of the ban visible in the official database of medicinal products in Germany.

“BfArM took its time but as of today (yesterday) the products are greenlighted!”

He explains, “What that means is that products marked as ‘marketable’ in the AMIS database automatically go into the ordering system of the German pharmacies.

“Until today a pharmacist making a query would have received the answer ‘not marketable’.

“Since today the pharmacy has the option to order from the companies or the wholesalers.

“Some of the marketing authorization holders have already manufactured a batch and are ready to deliver; it is now just a matter of time.”

With the latest confirmation, Dr. Schmidt says what the Pacific kava producing countries have dreaded for all this time may not be as bad after all.

However he warns, “BfArM is not out of tricks, and they are using them to find other excuses for their actions.

“Overall, however, the signal is loud and clear: Germany caused the whole drama by blindly rushing into a ban and now piece by piece they have to admit that they were wrong.

“This message should be of interest for the big markets as well, as it removes a taint on kava.”

In conclusion he warns kava growers, “Germany will be extremely aware of quality issues in the future, especially regarding two-day kava and/or peelings.

“We have implemented systems of quality control, and Germany will only accept noble kava.”

The former Ambassador to the EU praises the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah and Director of Biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon saying they are going a great job.

“We should go back to look at the (kava) industry in Vanuatu to make sure we do not allow visiting fly-in-by-night investors to get under-value of the market opening.

“Secondly we have to make sure there is proper coordination of logistics on the ground in terms of legislation, science, trade agreements and marketing to make sure we do not face the same challenges we faced in the initial period.”