Sunday, 19 November 2017

Právo: Many Czech seniors growing cannabis

ČTK |
14 November 2017

Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - Czech elderly have taken an intensive interest in the growing of cannabis as they use it for medical purposes, daily Pravo wrote on Monday, stressing that the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been permitted in the Czech Republic since 2013.

However, due to foreign suppliers, cannabis for medical purposes is overpriced in pharmacies and the elderly often cannot afford it, Pravo writes.

"They risk criminal prosecution, preferring spiritual and physical improvement of their health condition," Robert Veverka, chairman of the association Legalisation [of cannabis], is quoted as saying.

A recent study, commissioned by the National Drugs and Addiction Monitoring Centre, reveals that 800,000 people use cannabis and its products in the Czech Republic with its 10.5 million population.

Their users claim they solely do so for medical purposes, Pravo writes.

"The figure is shocking," national anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril said, adding that the elderly were in this group, too.

"Undoubtedly, cannabis growing is popular with the elderly. However, the statistics does not reflect in any significant way that the perpetrators are really old," Jakub Frydrych, head of the National Anti-Drug Centre, said.

However, in some regions, cannabis is grown en masse, Pravo writes.

"Some seniors are telling me that whole villages grow cannabis," Veverka said.

The Czech law has a clear view of cannabis growing. Marihuana growing is punishable. If there are five plants, this is a minor delict, if there are more, it is a criminal act.

"However, at the moment you finish the harvest and hang the plants in your loft, you are a criminal irrespective of the amount," Veverka said.

If the police come across an elderly marihuana grower, they try to adopt a rather tolerant approach to the case, either by a reprehension or calling it a minor delict.

"However, this is still a disaster for the pensioners and patients because their crops are always confiscated," Veverka said.

The pensioners mostly accept what happened to them, but they start growing the cannabis again, Veverka said.

Although the police are tipped by the neighbours in some cases, rural growers mostly know about one another. They even exchange the seeds and give advice to one another, he added.

"We have been harvesting the grass for at least six years. We received the seeds from a friend from the village who got it from her grandson," the paper quotes an elderly woman as saying.

The plant helps her as it alleviates her joint pains and serves to "animate her."

A number of family generations take part in illegal cannabis growing.

"Adult children ask us to give them seeds for their parents in their seventies," Veverka said.

"They are helped with the growing by their grandchildren," he added.

Home cannabis growing is mainly an affair of the Czech countryside and it is widely known among its inhabitants. This is exploited by thieves who often steal the pensioners' harvest, Pravo writes.

"Not the police, but young people who steal the cannabis from the fields and gardens in autumn pose the biggest risk for the elderly," Veverka said.

The elderly have a different relationship to the plants than the young, he added.

"The elderly do this work with a real fervor. Not for any entertainment, but with the hope that the plant will help them. They place great expectations in the growing," Veverka said.

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