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Europe: Czech Supreme Court Throws Out Medical Marijuana Grow Conviction

The Czech Supreme Court has reversed a pair of marijuana cultivation convictions against a 57-year-old retiree who grew the plants to treat her ulcers and foot pains, Czech Radio reported Monday. The high court has ordered the Prague Municipal Court to reexamine the case.

The unnamed woman from a village in Central Bohemia grow some 70 marijuana plants in her vegetable garden. A regional court in the town of Nymburk twice found her guilty of illegal possession and production of marijuana. She was given a suspended two-year sentence, but appealed to the high court.

The ruling was hailed by drug reformers, who said it could set an important precedent. The ruling could mean courts would have to examine cultivation cases on an individual basis to see if there was a medical defense.

"I think this is a very important decision and I hope everybody, I mean the police and lower courts, will accept it," said Ivan Douda, a founder of a Prague drug clinic. "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 Supreme Court ruling does not make marijuana cultivation legal, but does appear to offer a sort of medical necessity defense. Under current law, pot growers face up to five years in prison. But Czechs are among the most prolific marijuana smokers in Europe, and pressure has been mounting for marijuana law reforms there. Last summer, deputies introduced a bill that would dramatically lower penalties for possession and small-scale cultivation, but it has not been acted on yet.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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