Free Alicia Castilla, Uruguay on the way to legalize cannabis
Uruguay has one of the best drug policy in the continent. In Uruguay, the law does not criminalize the use of
drugs or their possession for personal consumption. Additionally, in recent years, national drug policies have
prioritized the pursuit of medium and large dealers, instead of focusing resources and energy in small vendors,
who are easily replaced. Over the past decade till present day, Uruguay shows a tolerant and open mind
criteria as far as marijuana is concerned. Anyway, there is a legal vacuum in this matter. The law allows legal
possession of a reasonable amount for personal consumption which is estimated by the judge’s discretion,
but does not specify the origin of the “reasonable amount”. This has meant that since 2007 the pro
cannabis activist groups get together and initiate discussions with the authorities to achieve the legalization
of self-cultivation of cannabis. Last January the Judge of Atlantida (small resort near capital city Montevideo)
Adriana Aziz, imprisoned Alicia Castilla a 66 year old activist, author of 2 books, Cannabis Culture and
Cannabis Growing, who annually publishes a Biodynamic Almanac for marijuana growing. With their perverse
interpretation of this law judges punish self supplied users, promoting with this the drug trade. While
cultivation is prohibited in the art. 3 of Law 14.294 on the same bill in the art. 31 enshrines the right to a
“reasonable” amount for personal consumption. It would be illogical to think then that this amount has to
come prepared and be purchased from a dealer and can not come in the form of a plant and be cultivated
by the user, thus breaking their link with drug trafficking. Against this interpretation by judges of the law
and demanding the legalization of self-cultivation, and the release of Castilla and another 350 consumers
Uruguayan activists convened a demonstration outside the Supreme Court on Thursday February 24 /2011
After the demonstration, in a statement to the press spokesman of the Supreme Court Raul Oxandabarat
recognized the existing of a legal vacuum. While the secretary of the National Drug Agency (Drug Czar)
Milton Romani expressed to the facts as follows: “It seems not prudent and discredits drug policy that 66
year old woman, clearly not a danger to public safety, is in prison. There are other judges who have acted
with other approaches to similar cases, compared Romani. In his view, the Uruguayan political system has
not been able to schedule these issues “in all its complexity.” “We always respond to the problem, the problem
now is an unfair situation, well then take advantage of that to legislate” he suggested. “We estimate that there
are 350 people in Uruguayan prisons for small amounts of marijuana, which can be for consumption or retail.
Speaking of drug dealers with this amount is nonsense and the law has to consider these situations, involving
mainly people under 35 who can not afford a lawyer, “said government deputy Sebastian Sabini (Area 609).
Echoing the popular demand, Sabini prepared a bill to legalize marijuana self-cultivation (amending Article 31
of Law 17.016, establishing a maximum size of 25 grams carrying and eight female plants per home), but he
also plans to push other attending the situation of those already detained. The deputy questioned the existing
legislation at the discretion of the presiding judge to decide whether the amount of marijuana a person at
the time of his arrest is for personal use or to sell. According to the legislature, most of the defendants went
to prison for having about 20 grams of marijuana. “That clearly is for personal use,” said deputy majority
sector of the left coalition in government. The release of these prisoners would also help reduce prison
overcrowding, a major concern of the authorities. The full discussion of this amnesty will then be resolved in
Parliament after the issue of legalization. Members Nicolás Núñez (PS), Sebastian Sabini (MPP), Fernando
Amado (Colorado Party) and Daniel Radius (Independent Party) are willing to push the proposal within their
respective parties. In recent days, at the request of Congressman Amado, recent changes were made to the
text. In the article that enabled “personal” self-cultivation, the concept “and domestic” was added, which
allows to envision situations where the homeowner wants to share their cannabis with other people.
Members also added a permit to produce industrial hemp, which is currently prohibited because it is a
variety of cannabis. Hemp is used to produce fibers which can be used by the textile industry and pulp.
Uruguay is currently in an excellent position to pass a law authorizing the self-cultivation of Cannabis,
and industrial hemp, for that to be possible is necessary to promote a campaign to inform the public opinion
of the profitability of this change. That is why we request your support for our campaign.
Donate for Alicia's legal fees
Alicia Castilla Letter
From within a Uruguayan prison.
Taking advantage of the opportunity that activist friends gave me to spread this text on the web,
I will try in a few lines to describe the incredible experience that I am involved in Uruguay.
Some of you will know that I am the author of Cannabis Culture, Cannabis Growing and the
Biodynamic almanac for marijuana cultivation published annually. Obviously, I consume and
grow for myself I'm Argentinian, in November 2010 bought a house in the Uruguayan seashore,
with the intention of having a peaceful place to spend my old age.
In December 2010, out of time as in the southern hemisphere cannabis is sown in September,
I started a small grow.
In January 2011, due to the claim of Gonzalo B., Spanish grower, the Uruguayan police raided
my house and found 29 thirty days old not sexed seedlings ,
I thought I would be processed. It was not just that. After being subjected to taunts and
various forms of abuse I was imprisoned. The word "jail" can sound in different ways depending
on the country who read these lines.
But few can imagine the level of squalor, violence, dirt from the prison of Canelones.
Rats everywhere, cockroaches in the beds, lice, etc.
The inmates, crack users, crack dealers, drug traffickers of all kinds, robbers, murderers, etc.etc.
When you get there you can not understand what is goin on.
In spite of horror, something unimaginable for me happened: the Uruguayan press and public opinion
were echoed of my situation.Uruguayan society has been discussing for weeks the importance of marijuana
self-cultivation decriminalization Activist groups were convened before the Supreme Court of Justice to
demand the legalization of self-cultivation and my freedom.
The Uruguayan Parliament discusses 2 different projects and there is consensus that at least one of them will
be sent to the Congress. The adoption of the law would be accompanied by an amnesty for the 350 people
who are currently imprisoned in the same cramped conditions I described.
The consciousness of being the pivot of a social movement that can get the first decriminalization worldwide
makes possible my survival in this branch of hell. On behalf of this movement is that I echo the request for
financial assistance. Uruguayan cannabis activists like many idealists "bought" this struggle not only to help
me and all the 350 prisoners but also to show the world that we can stop the hypocrisy that "it is allowed to
consume but not to plant. "On behalf of all and myself I agree to the request for funds.
Lets go for it! Alicia Castilla. 22/03/2011