Czech Republic: Cannabis Magazine Editor & Politician Charged With “inciting and promoting toxicomania.”

Cannabis Therapy magazine has this rather disturbing report and interview with Czech journalist Robert Veverka

 

You are facing a potential five-year prison term for “inciting and promoting toxicomania.” This offence sounds like something from the last century. Can you tell us what this crime is and why you have been accused of it?

The offense of “inciting and promoting toxicomania” has been, in fact, embedded in the Czech penal code since the 1990s – the last century – and explicitly states that “[w]hoever encourages another [individual] to abuse an addictive substance other than alcohol, or in other ways incites or spreads the abuse of said substance, shall be punished by imprisonment or the ban of publishing activities.” The wording of this section of the law is very vague. These are so-called “catch-all” or “elastic” laws, which allow the police to interpret and apply the law arbitrarily to pretty much any activity related to psychoactive substances — excluding alcohol, that is. Since 2010, I have been publishing a magazine called Legalizace in the Czech Republic, which focuses not only on cannabis, but on a whole range of topics related to psychoactive substances, their use, and legislation.

The Czech Republic has, in my opinion, very strict and high penalties for drug offences embedded in its laws.

The magazine offers interviews with well-known personalities and informs about the use of cannabis in medicine, industry, and culture. It also provides counseling and support to people dealing with problems that legal and illegal psychoactive substances can bring. We share the stories of people who use psychoactive substances, patients, and victims of prohibition. And, last but not least, the magazine provides news from home and abroad, research findings, and expert studies, as well as offering readers possible ways of regulation and suggestions for legislative changes. What led the police to believe that the magazine constitutes the criminal offense of inciting and promoting toxicomania is a range of articles, mainly those regarding the cultivation of cannabis or its use as medication, including photographs of the cannabis plant, cherry-picked from the aforementioned wide range of content found in the magazine. For two years, the police combed through each individual magazine issue, investigated me for a year, and eventually brought criminal charges against not only me as the editor-in-chief, but also my company which publishes the magazine.

Do you think that others who publish articles, books, or videos are now facing the same criminal investigation in your country, or is this investigation specifically targeted for political reasons?

I cannot say with certainty that my prosecution has political overtones. Yes, I am a person active on the political scene; I am a representative of a Prague municipal district, I ran for the Senate [of the Czech Republic] in 2020, when the police officially began to investigate me, and I have repeatedly but unsuccessfully run for the Chamber of Deputies on the subject of cannabis regulation. Instead I would say that Legalizace magazine is a fairly visible and well-known periodical which can be as controversial to (especially) law enforcement authorities as its actual content. For many, the subject of psychoactive substances and their possible use or calls for a change in legislation may still be perceived as an unacceptable issue. The stigma surrounding this subject is often stronger than rational considerations of ending prohibition. So I fear that if I lose this case, if the court rules in favor of the prosecution, it may very well happen that similar charges brought against other media or publishers will follow, to which the precedent set in my case will be applied. My aim is, of course, not to lose the case, not only for the sake of myself and my magazine, but for other media as well. I am fighting for the freedom of speech and the right to information, guaranteed to us by our [Czech] constitution.

Read the full interview at 

https://cannathemag.com/czech-journalist-prosecuted/

His wikipedia page https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Veverka

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