Bulgarian court overturns acquittal of seriously ill man on marijuana possession charges
The district court in the Bulgarian town of Lovech overturned the acquittal earlier by a lower court of a man with multiple sclerosis on marijuana possession charges.
The March 27 acquittal of Marin Kalchev had been seen as a milestone in a country which has no legal provision for the medical use of marijuana.
The lower court accepted evidence from medical experts that Kalchev’s use of marijuana was legitimate because it ameliorated the symptoms of his serious illness.
But in a ruling on April 23, the district court overturned this ruling, accepting the argument of prosecutors that Kalchev had not exhausted other options for his treatment.
Kalchev was ordered to pay a fine of 1000 leva (about 500 euro) after being found in possession of marijuana said to be worth about 355 leva.
Bulgarian legislation makes no real distinction between marijuana dealing and possession, although local media said that petty cases seldom result in prosecutions reaching court. A report by Mediapool alleged that such situations usually result in police accepting bribes to drop the matter.
Kalchev told reporters that he would continue to use the drug to alleviate his symptoms. His lawyer said that he was prepared to take the matter as far as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Earlier, after the acquittal, Tanya Andreeva – health minister in the current Bulgarian Socialist Party government – said that legalisation of marijuana for medical use was “not on the agenda“.
(Photo: Aleksander Sowa/sxc.hu)