Man Sentenced to 8 Months in Jail for Growing Medical Marijuana
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Fidelis Arie Sudewarto has been sentenced to eight months in prison and Rp1 million fine with the charge of growing medical marijuana for his wife.
“I’m shocked but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Fidelis said after the trial on Wednesday, August 2, at Negeri Sanggau District Court in West Kalimantan. The man works as a civil servant in Sanggau District.
The sentence was harsher than five months in prison the prosecution sought. Fidelis’ wife died when he was under police custody.
The House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III member Erma Suryani Ranik who attended the sentencing trial said that she was disappointed with the verdict.
Erma said that the judges did not take into account the fact that Fidelis had consulted the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) office in Senggau as shown in a screen capture of his social media post on February 14. He had consulted with a BNN member and was told to meet another official who is more qualified to discuss medical marijuana.
The official also refused to give any opinion and told Fidelis to meet the head of BNN Sanggau. However, he was arrested five days later.
Marcelina Lin, Fidelis’ defense lawyer is very upset about the verdict. The lawyer did not bring a medical expert witness to the court due to the lack of official research on medical marijuana. Fidelis has been given seven days to file an appeal.
Tomi Gumilang, an advocate of Lingkar Ganja Indonesia (Indonesian Circle of Cannabis), who attended the trial said that the sentence is relatively minimal. “It’s the second case. There was a [similar] case in Yogyakarta in 2009. The victim was sentenced to five years in jail,” Tomi said.
Tomi said that Fidelis’ case may serve as a stepping stone to legalize medical marijuana. “Our foundation will report the issue to raise public awareness. Marijuana should be considered as an alternative medicine,” he said.