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Mario Cerdas, lawyer and cannabis grower is probably a key player of you’re looking to understand the current situation of cannabis cultivation for personal use.
For years, the lawyer studied the details related to the law to prove in court that a home grow without the intention of trafficking is not a typified felony on the constitution. Rather it can be use for locals for its therapeutic, nutritional, or spiritual qualities.
The Public Prosecutor's Office is against abandoning this criminal case and for this reason will face trial in the upcoming weeks.
Although he had already been acquitted in 2018 for this reason, the authorities publicly attacked him again. He is currently in prison for more than a year. Awaiting his trial, Cerdas ensures that there is no evidence to that would link him with any crime.
MCN spoke exclusively to the lawyer from prison.
Read 1st part: https://bit.ly/3dBloqA
Listen to the audio interview: https://spoti.fi/34YZUjP
Did you help sick people?
I wasn't really helping people, just as they been trying to imply. The matter was very very very a family thing. Then I would recommend growing their own plants to the people who were looking for me.
They asked me about the problems, and I told them I couldn't guarantee it. But my advice, my speech to all the people who looked for me because they needed it for some need, for sickness and for whatever each person took responsibility for growing their own plants and self-supporting.
I mean, it wasn't that you had some kind of medical clinic much less.
No, no, no. That needs to be clarified very well. It wasn't that I was promoting oils or any plant products. People were looking for me more than anything to see if they could do it and I would explain the implications that could have.
Warning them obviously that it couldn't be commercialized. If they did, it's so they could solve their personal or family problem. But that at all it could not be trafficked or marketed with the plant because in this country it is a crime.
When you listen to the version of the Prosecutor’s Office where they say they allegedly made controlled purchases to you, how does this version make you feel?
Well, that has been their tactics, their strategy to influence the collective unconsciousness of presenting me as a "foolish drug dealer" which is already the third time I've opened a file on a cannabis-related matter. I have been very calm since the break-in that I know gave clarification from the same director of the Office. However, this Mr Walter Espinoza has a book in which he rests as a book allows, he argues a thesis that in this country what is crime is cultivation for the purpose of trafficking. When there is no such end, there is no crime. He himself has supported it in his literary work "Crime of Drug Trafficking and Related Activities (2009)".. However, I was very surprised.
I think he was malicious on the part of some of Alajuela's judicial agents to give the statements. Because the statement he made to me with the Public Prosecutor's Office does not correspond to what the accusatory piece says…
Then in that sense, you feel persecuted or believe that there is a personal vendetta to your person or is already fully directed to the properties of this plant.
Look, I think there's a little bit of both. Here are people who have embraced misinformation to take sides against the use of cannabis sativa. I have in a way earned persecution for being a person who has insisted on self-cultivatitive to solve the plant's self-suffestling problems on a personal and family level.
That's what they never really liked in the same motivations or arguments they give when the matter was taken for examination by the State, it is coincidentally that they consider that if my background was allowed then they would lose criminal action against the cultivation of the cannabis plant.
But I didn't finish the ideas by indicating that I wasn't struggling to release the crop for trafficking, I was struggling to free up the crop so that people who needed to use it as medicine and food could do it without committing any crime.
Then there has been a clash of posture that the Ministerio Público has wanted to simplify to bring water to its mill and indiscriminately pursue any crop of the plant regardless of whether it is to treat diseases even quite serious suffered by some people.
In this I have felt quite alone because if you start to observe yourself in some countries like Argentina, there were even movements by female groups who wanted to insist on growing for children who had different pathologies, but in Costa Rica has lacked the accompaniment of organizations to fight more for the right that we all have in health.
Have you ever supplied or sold in exchange for money?
In the accusatory piece of the Public Prosecutor's Office, I am not charged with the trafficking of the plant, anywhere. They simply accuse me of supply and for that they are based on some indications of people who visited me and who after leaving my house were intercepted and who were sometimes seized 4 grams in some 18, insignificant things that did not even motivate the detention of anyone who was requisitioned because we well know that the administrative and police authorities also have their protocol.
They know that if a person carries an amount it may be for trafficking they will open cause to anyone who finds the drug. There is no such situation with the people who visited me.
These are long-standing people who are consumers of the plant. There is the case of a chef who used it even in his food recipes. That was the person who was most seized a total of 3 and amounts of 6-8 in another 14, in another 18. Amounts he used for his cooking recipes and his personal consumption.
In fact, there's an interesting aspect, I've been detained for three months. During those three months the judicial police chose 25 interventions with different people. I mean, 15 different people. For example, my partner, my brother. Very close people familiarly. And of those people only 5 used cannabis in some way for a long time. They smoked it, they did it in oil, they had overcome cancer pathologies.
I can tell you about 5 cases in total of people using the plant.
Among them, Dr. Sasani. A boy from Sarapiquí who had visited cancer. And Either I met them years ago. The chef and others. In fact, he taught me how to make cannabis butter.
In fact, the thesis of the same prosecution falls by its own weight. Who did I distribute it to, who did I supply? No one.
What would you ask the judges to rule on your case?
Well, all I am asking is justice and objectivity. I was already subjected to trial in early 2015, on 19 January it was the judgment where I was acquitted for identical facts and the conclusion was that in this country cultivation by cultivation, although it was not regularized if it was done for the purpose of personal consumption or self-consumption.
The situation they're going to take me to trial for is exactly the same thing. The public prosecutor's office has given that they rather take the matter. It’s almost a “rice with mango”. Two court proceedings have already been opened to me. One where the same prosecution has called for definitive dismissal because it could never be proved that the crop had an end of traffiking.
By this time, the prosecution had always maintained that in order for it to be a crime, the same director of the OIJ (Local equivalent of DEA) had to be proved to be an end of trafficking, as he has argued.
At the second trial, which I am accused of for 4 cannabis cultivation offences also for trafficking purposes and on this occasion, they already leave aside the issue of the purpose of trafficking and want to take me to a single trial and simply because of the cultivation and possession I obviously had of my harvest and storage.
And the storage more than anything is the curing and drying of the flowers that I just harvested. Actually, there is absolutely nothing new in this process. What is evident is the very repressive spirit and of persecuting me because I have been holding this thesis that they do not share.
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