The Supreme Court recently ruled in favour of a woman who had grown cannabis for medicinal purposes and who had been previously found guilty of illegal production and possession of drugs by a lower court. The breakthrough ruling suggests that growing cannabis is not necessarily the same thing as marijuana production. Experts believe it could set an important legal precedent. Ruth Fraňková reports:
A 57-year-old pensioner from a village in Central Bohemia cultivated some seventy cannabis plants in her vegetable garden, using them to treat her ulcer as well as foot pains. As a result, a regional court in the town of Nymburk twice found her guilty of illegal production and possession of marihuana and she was given a suspended sentence of two years. The Supreme Court has now overruled the previous verdicts and ordered the Prague Municipal Court to re-examine the case. Ivan Douda, one of the founders of Prague’s “Drop-in” drug clinic, welcomes the verdict.
“I think this a very important decision and I hope that everybody, I mean the police and lower courts, will accept it. We were waiting for this ruling for a long time. As it is now, many Czechs are using cannabis for medicinal purposes and they have to grow it illegally. It is a very bad thing if law doesn’t respect this reality and if people can’t use something that is good for their health.”
The ruling of the Supreme Courts does not make the growing of cannabis legal and people who do so can still be accused of illegal production and possession of drugs. Nevertheless the verdict suggests that lower courts should thoroughly investigate individual cases to prove whether the grower really intended to produce marihuana or just use it for medical purposes. But observers, including Ivan Douda of Drop-In, stress it would be useful for those who do, to have some kind of doctor’s recommendation. More and more people are being tried for marihuana possession in the Czech Republic each year and experts now hope that the recent Supreme Court decision could lower the number of what they view as unfair convictions.