On March 9, 2011, the Brno Regional Court of Appeal reduced by two months the suspended sentence of Dušan Dvořák (pictured), who grew cannabis for medicinal purposes in the Prostějovsk region. He sentenced him to 28 months in prison, suspended for 2.5 years. Last October, the Prostějovsk court sentenced him to 30 months suspended for three years. The man appealed against it. He claims he is innocent and has not broken the law. =@=
Brno – The teachings of the Hemp Church, which unsuccessfully sought registration in the Czech Republic, cannot be considered a religious belief. The Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) rejected the cassation complaint of Dušan Dvořák, who acted as the representative of the preparatory committee. The registration of the church was rejected by the Ministry of Culture, the preparatory committee did not succeed even with a lawsuit to the Municipal Court in Prague. NSS made its decision available on the official board.
“It does not show any internal features like a traditional religion, especially because it completely lacks a relationship to the metaphysical or sacral world, does not solve existential questions, focuses only on a specific aspect of life (the benefits of cannabis) and does not contain an understandable ethical system,” the judgment reads.
Dvořák has been promoting the medicinal effects of cannabis for a long time, for the cultivation of which he was imprisoned. He was serving his sentence even at the time of filing the cassation complaint. His conviction was criticized by a number of human rights activists and supporters of the legalization of marijuana.
The proposal for the registration of the Hemp Church was submitted by the preparatory committee in 2016. The Ministry of Culture definitively rejected it three years later. It came to the conclusion that the church did not meet the conditions defined by law and its belief cannot be considered a religious belief.
Last January, the representative's lawsuit was rejected by the Municipal Court in Prague. He pointed out that religious faith is usually metaphysical, speaks about the basic questions of life and its meaning, contains an ethical system and offers a comprehensive view of the world. However, the belief of the Hemp Church only relates to a partial aspect of human existence, namely the benefits of cannabis.
In the cassation complaint, Dvořák stated that there is no generally accepted definition of religion in international law, and it is therefore necessary to interpret the term broadly, and not just as a belief in a god or gods. In the case of the Hemp Church, it is said to be about the belief that cannabis connects the world through cannabinoids, i.e. the specific substances contained in it. The complaint also made the argument that cannabis, like the Christian messiah Jesus, has the ability to heal the sick.
Similar to the city court, the NSS came to the conclusion that the Hemp Church does not meet the criterion of metaphysics with its teachings. The presence and effects of cannabinoids are empirically verifiable, making them a matter of science rather than faith, according to the NSS. “Even the comparison of cannabis to Jesus and his healing abilities does not change things, because the Christian faith sees the source of Jesus' healing power in God, whereas the Cannabis Church is based on the belief in the healing effects of cannabis, whose healing potential is based on its composition,” the justification continues. .
NSS also stated that the Hemp Church does not comprehensively address the fundamental questions of life, death and the meaning of being. It only focuses on promoting cannabis as a health-promoting crop. “No matter how true the complainant's belief in the usefulness of cannabis may be, in the opinion of the NSS it can only be a secular belief, not a religious belief, which is an inherent assumption of every religious society or church,” stated Senate President Viktor Kučera in the conclusion of the justification.
In the expert opinion and in the decisions of the Ministry and the courts, the assumption appeared repeatedly that the goal of the possible registration of the Cannabis Church was to obtain legal protection for cannabis users.