QCOSTARICA – In an interview with La Nacion, the lawyer acquitted for growing marijuana, Mario Alberto Cerdas Salazar, 58, said he did so to show that it was permissible.
“I grew the marijuana to help the cannabis movement, for Costa Ricans to realize they can grow the crop legitimately and stimulate its beneficial use, because it is a plant that can also serve as a medicine,” said Cerdas.
That is the reason the lawyer decided to grow the marijuana on the terrace of his home, in plain sight, some 30 metres from the Alajuela courthouse, despite authorities insisting he stop doing so and confiscated the plants.
He did this five times, even spent time in preventive detention (jail awaiting trial) on four occasions, accused of drug trafficking.
On Tuesday, the Tribunales de Alajuela (Alajuela criminal courts) acquitted him on the grounds that he was growing the marijuana for personal use and not trafficking.
The judges noted in their ruling that growing marijuana in Costa Rica for personal use is illegal, but not a crime.
“I was convinced that it was not a crime, and, for me, the intervention (arrest) by the Ministerio Publico was illegitimate,” the lawyer told La Nacion on Wednesday.
Despite the first police action in 2014, Cerdas continued to grow his marijuana, at one point having up to 177 plants, some up to two metres (six feet) high. All were confiscated and destroyed by police.
He says that in addition to smoking marijuana, he uses to cook in eggs, salads and oils. The lawyer realizes his actions challenged authorities, planting in full view, but assures it was for a purpose.
“I believed it convenient to publicize it because I am not hiding anything, I’m implying that my crop is for health and not trafficking. I then realized for the OIJ (judicial police) it was a big challenge, but that is the way they look at it, but was not my intention. Mine was to make it clear to the people of Alajuela I was doing something I felt was right,” said Cerdas.
The lawyer believes tha the authorities wanted to teach him a lesson, for his “defiance” and for being a lawyer, and, therefore, knowing the law.
“I do not regret having planted and strongly hope that, sooner or later authorities will realize that the use of cannabis should be regulated,” said the lawyer.
No more planting. While admitting that his smoking marijuana is likely to continue, he says that he will no longer grow it. Today, in his garden, you will find rosemary and coriander plants among others, but no marijuana.
“For now, I think I will grow radishes, a vegetable that I like tp eat very much and don’t think it will give me any problems with the law,” said the lawyer in closing the interview.