by Martijn on 07/11/2013 | Cannabis News

Czech grow shop raids will continue in the coming weeks

Last Monday (November 4, 2013) the Czech police carried out a mass-raid on grow shops throughout the country, simply because they sell equipment to grow cannabis indoors. Around seven people are still in custody but most of those arrested have been released. The raids are supposed to continue for another few weeks.


Ivana_Jezkova
Police spokeswoman Ivana Je?ková.

Last Monday (November 4, 2013) the Czech police carried out a mass-raid on grow shops throughout the country, simply because they sell equipment to grow cannabis indoors. Around seven people are still in custody but most of those arrested have been released. The raids are supposed to continue for another few weeks.

This is an unexpected move in a county that decriminalised cannabis possession for personal use in 2010 and legalised the medicinal use of cannabis in April 2013, but the police are saying they have no other choice. Police spokeswoman Ivana Je?ková declared to Radio Prague that grow shops have often been overlooked in the fight against the mass distribution of cannabis. “Since 2007, we’ve noted a marked increase in cannabis farming and production of marijuana. This is inadvertently linked with the rise in the number of stores and online shops that sell the technology necessary for these activities.” The police say the increase in cannabis farming has become clear through a record seizure of 563 kilograms of harvested product last year, and the uncovering of 199 cannabis growing facilities whose annual production capacity is estimated at around seven tons.

Grey area

The police says they have collected over 50 criminal cases during the last few days for offences under the Narcotics Act. Many critics say that this is a grey area, because most grow shops only sell legal equipment to grow plants in general. These critics therefore opine that the shops cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of their customers.

Michal Otepka owns of one of the inspected grow shops. In his opinion, store employees cannot be held responsible for what their customers choose to do with the legal products they purchase. In a statement to Radio Prague he says: “We have tried to do everything according to the law. We sell legal products and we tried to avoid even hinting at any advice on growing cannabis. We have discouraged customers from doing anything illegal. We sell products that help grow plants, I cannot influence what people then do in their homes. If the police are not able to uncover this, they cannot make it our responsibility.”

However, the police believe that selling a full range of products and services for growing and using cannabis with the intention of getting the largest and most effective amount of THC into the consumer’s body, cannot legally be sold at one location. They say the current raids are in line with a year-old Supreme Court ruling stating that grow shop owners and operators are engaged in an unlawful act.

Cannafest

Cannafest will go on.
Cannafest will continue as planned.

This weekend the fourth edition of the international hemp fair Cannafest will be held at Incheba Expo in the capital city of Prague. Many agree that it looks like the raids are a good instrument to discourage exhibitors and visitors from attending this fair, especially since the police’s list of incriminated actions almost reads as the exhibitor list of the hemp fair. Police spokeswoman Je?ková is rejecting this accusation, saying the raids were not “in any way timed with the trade fair”, but had been prepared “well in advance”.

In a statement to the European Wall Street Journal, Cannafest director Lukas Behal said that some Czech exhibitors have cancelled their participation already, due to the police having seized their goods, including lighting systems, fertilizers and literature on cannabis use in palliative medicine. “The raids will of course have some minor impact, but the trade fair will continue as planned,” stated Mr Behal. He also added that, as in previous years, organisers and police are cooperating  to ensure no laws are broken.

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