Why Is The Czech Republic Punishing A Cannabis Educator?
The cannabis reform movement, as with any meaningful social movement, would not be possible without people spreading education. Cannabis educators are vital because without them there would be a vast knowledge void, and that knowledge void would be filled entirely by cannabis opponents as history has clearly demonstrated.
For several decades positive cannabis knowledge and information were suppressed by governments worldwide. Those that tried to spread the truth and facts were sometimes targeted. Unfortunately, that censorship continues to this day, including in countries that you may not have expected.
Robert Veverka is a journalist and director of the Czech-based cannabis magazine Legalizace. Back in October 2021, I published an article about Robert being targeted by the Czech government over his journalism, with the government accusing him of “inciting and promoting toxicomania.”
Legalizace is a bimonthly periodical focused on cannabis, as well as drug policy relating to human rights and environmental issues. Here in the United States where I live and conduct similar efforts, what Veverka did is well within the parameters of legal speech/expression. Legalizace clearly provides content that possesses significant scientific, political, and literary value.
“The prosecution, which is calculated, stigmatizing, borderline untruthful, and based on fallacious conjectures and limited interpretation by the police that the cultivation and processing of cannabis is automatically illegal or that any mention of cannabis automatically equates ‘inciting toxicomania’, comprises a dangerous precedent comparable to totalitarian repression and censorship.” Robert Veverka stated back in late 2021 regarding the initial indictment.
“I consider it my duty to fight not only for the right of Legalizace magazine to exist, but also for the rights of all print and electronic media who have ever dared mention the word ‘cannabis’ – or plan to do so in the future,” Robert Veverka went on to say at the time.
Unfortunately, the Czech Republic proceeded with the indictment and in November 2021 Veverka and his media outlet were found guilty of the allegations, and Veverka was given a one-year prison sentence contingent on a probationary period of two and a half years as well as a fine of 50,000 CZK by the district court in Bruntál following two court hearings.
“The judge mentioned that he is not competent to assess the benefits of the current legislation, the benefits of cannabis products in healthcare, or the negative effects of cannabis use, but that he must base his verdict on the existing legislation which is binding for all. He stated that according to his judgement, Legalizace magazine evidently and factually constituted the criminal offence of inciting and promoting toxicomania.” Veverka stated at the time of the November 2021 verdict in a press release.
“He did not take into account the legislative provisions allowing for cannabis to be handled legally in certain cases or the comprehensive and educational nature of the information published in the magazine. On the contrary, the judge expressed his doubts as to whether the individuals who granted interviews to the magazine were made aware of its content and overall message. Personally, I consider the verdict to be very biased and severely restrictive of the freedom of expression, the right to express political opinion, and the right to information,” Veverka also stated.
News broke this month that Veverka was sentenced by a Czech court for similar allegations, although it’s still unclear to me from afar if that is part of an appeal attempt to the previously cited charges, or if this is a separate, additional matter. Either way, one thing that I do know is that what Veverka is being subjected to is horrific and unfair, and the global cannabis community needs to rally around him.
Veverka must reportedly pay an administrative offense of €4.000 (as a defendant and a natural person) and €6.000 on behalf of his media outlet as part of the recent verdict. For anyone that is able to support Robert Veverka and contribute to his defense, bank details are below. If you are not able to contribute financially, please help spread the word on your social channels about his plight:
Fio banka, as, V Celnici 1028/10, 117 21 Praha 1