Three men who had built cannabis growing facility in a former wine shop in the city of Zlín have left the Regional Court with suspended sentences despite the fact they were facing twelve years behind bars for more than eight hundred plants found on the spot.
Two young men looked after cultivation of plants while the third rented them the needed place. All three men acknowledged their guilt in Court and expressed their regrets. Principally, they defended themselves saying that the marijuana they were growing would have been used only to treat their sick relatives.
“Such motivation could not be disproved, it therefore had to be considered as a substantially mitigating circumstance,” stated judge Radomir Koudela, the chairman of the Senate.
The Court imposed on the 32-year-old man and his two-year younger accomplice surprisingly mild suspended sentences with five years’ probation. The same sentence, only with a one year shorter probation, was levied on the 34-year-old provider of the space. The Court agreed on the length of the punishment with the indictment proposal, yet the prosecutor demanded eight years’ imprisonment for the two growers. “I consider the testimony of the accused misleading and purposeful,” he explained.
They wanted to produce extract for their sick relatives
The prosecutor stated that the two friends cultivated cannabis inside the former wine shop, at least from October 2014 until February 2015, when the grow room was discovered by the police.
They secured 797 plants of 20 to 115 centimetres high, nearly one kilogram of dried cannabis, as well as nutrition solutions, lighting, fans and other equipment needed for so-called indoor marijuana grow.
From the buds the couple wanted to produce cannabis extract medication, called in the Czech Republic Phoenix Tears, which is supposed to help in serious and terminal medical conditions, as well as prepare ointments.
“I found out something about therapeutic effects of potent cannabis extract”
“In 2013 my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. When her health rapidly deteriorated, she had to take prescribed medications several times a day. But she felt sick after taking them and was gradually losing her zest for life. I was looking for a way to help her and found out something about therapeutic effects of potent cannabis extract. I started to think about its production,” declared younger of the two growers.
The instruction on how to make the extract from cannabis is freely available on the Internet, but at first he was too afraid to try it. He therefore visited a friend whose several close relatives had cancer. “They told me they would love to try these Phoenix Tears,” explained the grower, who at that time occasionally smoked marijuana.
“Anyone could do it”
The two men agreed on making the medication themselves. “Anyone could do it, it’s not that complicated,” pointed out the younger grower who had learned all the information he needed from the Internet.
There, he also found an advertisement offering equipment for growing cannabis, which he bought for about two thousand euro. The older guy then addressed a friend asking him to rent them a closed wine shop, which he had helped to build before.
Both growers told the Court that they wanted to stop the cultivation after the first harvest. They just planned to pass the manufactured Phoenix Tears and ointments to their sick relatives.
“I only wanted to keep 20 grams for myself,” acknowledged the older one, who planned to leave for New Zealand in the spring of 2015. He also described the dry mass found by the police as the waste from the parts of dead plants.
It is true that for members of cannabis community these punishments may still seem harsh and unfair, however if the judges were simply following the current drug laws in Czechia (and other EU countries), they would have to put both growers to prison for a couple of years. Had this case happened in e.g. Slovakia or Poland (both Czech neighbours), where the drug laws are draconian, the growers would have been lucky to spend less than ten years behind bars.