Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jun 1999
Source: Cyprus Mail, The (Cyprus)
Copyright: Cyprus Mail 1999
Author: Charlie Charalambous 


By Charlie Charalambous

A MAN accused of growing cannabis yesterday asked a Larnaca court why he
was being prosecuted when hemp seed was legally available at pet shops and

Yiannis Kouroushis, a 27-year-old builder, was hauled up in court and
remanded for four days for allegedly growing 12 cannabis plants in his garden.

According to the suspect's logic -- which did not impress the court -- he
should be allowed to plant the seeds rather than be forced to buy the end

"Why is cultivating the seed forbidden when any corner shop you go to sells
it and why should I be forced to buy it off anyone else?" Kouroushis told a
shocked district court.

The drug squad dismisses the fact that cannabis seed is freely available in
Cyprus, but pet shop owners and consumers have stated otherwise.

"These seeds are not openly available in shops, otherwise we'd know about
it and stop it," one drug squad officer told the Cyprus Mail.

But a Nicosia pet shop owner freely admitted he was peddling the seed to a
variety of birds.

"Yeah, sure we sell cannabis seed; it's imported with the bird food, come
have a look," said pet shop owner Costas Iracleous.

Other locals even confessed to buying the seeds roasted and salted as a
meze to be washed down with beer or whisky.

"It's good for my cholesterol and it tastes great," said a cannabis seed fan.

Some prominent lawyers were stumped by the question of whether cultivating
the seed locally for the birds was actually kosher.

"Nobody would believe you if you said you were growing cannabis to sell the
seeds and not to smoke it," said a criminal lawyer.

However, Cyprus' stringent drug laws says that eating the seeds is one
thing, but planting them as a crop is quite another, according to senior
counsel of the Republic Petros Clerides.

"Even if you could grow plants from these seeds, it is not a sound legal
argument," Clerides told the Cyprus Mail.

"It's like saying knives are free to buy in the shop, but that doesn't mean
you are free to stab a man," said Clerides.

"Or you can buy various substances from a pharmacy but if you put them
together to make an explosive that's illegal."

So, for the moment, the "legalise cannabis" campaigners will have to stick
to chewing seeds instead of smoking the weed.

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