August 23rd was the day when I went to the court for the first time in my life. I was neither accused nor summoned as a witness, I just wanted to see with my own eyes a public hearing which I would never imagine to make it to the courtroom. Could anything be more absurd than prosecuting a hemp farmer for growing certified hemp? Well, everything is possible when it comes to Czechia and cannabis.
Mr. Leopold Svatý has been growing hemp (legal varieties of cannabis) on a large scale for more than twenty years in the Czech Republic. He has also been advocating for a full legalization of this plant and spreading the message of its wide medical uses.
In order to sell his hemp flowers and leaves, Mr. Svatý has been regularly visiting various trade fairs in Central Europe – be it Prague’s Cannafest, Cultiva in Vienna or minor events in Poland – where he was presenting his product (unprocessed herb, bath mix, teas, etc.). This is absolutely normal and all hemp growers do the same thing so that they can attract customers and make deals. That’s why Mr. Svatý never had any problems while visiting all of these trade shows, festivals and conferences.
Cannabis Is not Wanted Here!
However, this was about to change in the third biggest Czech city called Ostrava (which – to be honest – doesn’t belong to the most liberal parts of the Czech Republic, to say it politely). Here a first year of a new cannabis trade fair called “Konopex” took place in the spring of 2016. Mr. Svatý and dozens of other hemp growers, producers and processors came here to do business as usually, but the local police had other plans.
First they stormed the place and asked all of the exhibitors to hide all flowers that were on display. The exhibitors didn’t understand what is happening, because it was only legal hemp, but they obeyed in order to avoid confrontation. The officers left at first, but came back a while later and marched right to Mr. Svatý’s stand, where they confiscated four kilograms of certified hemp strain called Carmagnola (named according to place of its origin in Italy) and took a shocked farmer to police station. Although Mr. Svatý tried to explain and provide all necessary documents and certificates, the officers didn’t listen and they sent the bags to laboratory.
A few months later, Mr. Svatý was accused of “spreading toxicomania”, because the police lab found 0.6 % THC in his bags, with legal limit being 0.3 % THC in the Czech Republic. The whole case is so absurd that it would take a whole book to describe all irregularities and misunderstandings on the side of the police and prosecution, but we’ll just mention the three major ones.
Three Major Flaws of the Prosecution
- Police confiscated four kilograms, but the tested plant material weighed only two kilograms, which shows that police was manipulating with (i.e. picking up only buds) in order to raise THC levels.
- Experts summoned by the defense point out that the THC levels can be a slightly higher in hemp varieties due to weather conditions, which the farmer cannot influence (therefore there cannot be an intention to commit a crime Mr. Svatý is accused of). If someone is to blame, it should be the producer of certified seeds, because it’s his responsibility to make sure that the genetic predispositions won’t allow the plant to produce more than the legal limit of THC.
- But the most importantly – hemp with 0.6 % THC still cannot be used to “spread toxicomania” (meaning “get people high”), because it’s simply too low, as drug addiction experts point out. If someone wants to get stoned with this plant material, they would have to smoke dozens of joints in a few minutes and they may still feel nothing.
To make the story short: The police, the prosecutor and the judge of Ostrava District Court are wasting public money and their time on prosecuting an innocent man, who has been legally growing legal strains of hemp and has been paying taxes all the time. The third hearing of this grotesque comedy is set to September 27th and we can only hope that the common sense will eventually prevail.
By the way surname “Svatý” means “Saint” in English – and maybe Mr. Svatý will actually be canonized in future after all this abuse and harassment…