By Constantinos Psillides
A 35-YEAR-OLD lawyer is suing the state for her right to smoke and grow cannabis, arguing that each person should be allowed to choose what they put in their body and claiming that using cannabis was part of her religion.
The case has been filed with the Nicosia district court.
The lawyer is also suing for damages after she was arrested at her home for possessing half a gramme of marijuana. According to the lawsuit, during the process she was humiliated, forced to spend the night with criminals while being in constant fear of losing her job.
The lawsuit states that on the night in question, the lawyer was at her apartment in Nicosia with friends, when two drug enforcement agency officers rang her doorbell “pretending that they were conducting a poll”. When she refused to open the door, she claims the two officers went down the stairs, approached the car belonging to a friend of her’s and kicked the tyres until the alarm went off.
When she opened the door to check on the noise, the two officers gained entrance and started to search the apartment for drugs, said the lawyer. When she asked why her apartment was searched, one of the officers replied that she was a drug trafficking suspect.
The search of her home yielded half a gramme of marijuana which was confiscated.
The 35-year-old said she pleaded with the officers not to report her, saying that the drugs were for personal use and that her career would suffer a severe blow if she was arrested for drugs. The officers refused and took her in for interrogation.
According to the lawyer, she was taken into custody and interrogated for three hours by four policemen, who demanded that she name her suppliers.
The lawyer claims that at one point one of the officers told her that if she gave them names she would be “off the hook” and that he himself used to smoke marijuana and didn’t consider it to be a big deal.
The woman says she was never part of a drug trafficking ring. After the interrogation she was taken to prison where she spent the night, the lawsuit says.
The 35-year-old said that the whole ordeal caused her considerable distress, made her lose confidence in herself and in her ability to properly do her work and that she needed psychological counselling for four months. She added that she didn’t feel safe in her apartment anymore so she had to move five months after the incident.
In her lawsuit, the 35-year-old argues that smoking marijuana helps her relax and deal with work pressures.
She says that since death resulting from marijuana use was an unheard of phenomenon, not allowing people choose whether or not they wanted to use it, constituted a violation of human rights. “People should be able to choose what they put in their bodies,” she writes.
The lawyer also claims marijuana use is part of her religion. The name of the religion was not mentioned. Marijuana has been used in various religious practices throughout the ages to as far back as 2000BC and is mentioned in some ancient texts as one of the five sacred plants. In modern times it is most associated with the Rastafarian movement