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The Unjust Legal Persecution of Chilean Cannabis Activist Demetrio Jiménez

"I don't sleep peacefully anymore", says Demetrio Jiménez in a video call from Coyhaique, while he tells how he has faced this whole process, which, he stresses, is the hardest he has had to live through in his 37 years, all the while making sure his five children do not hear what he is talking about, so as not to worry them.

Demetrio Jiménez is a native of Aysén, a cannabis grower and collaborator of Daya Aysén. After a year and a half of a hard judicial process, that kept him in prison until last June, he now awaits the sentence of the Court of Aysén, which found him guilty in two cases of cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use and for which the Public Prosecutor's Office is asking for 10 years in prison for two medicinal crops. He is not charged for trafficking, which was dismissed, but for "illicit cultivation".

For Nicolás Dormal, co-founder and director of Fundación Daya, "Demetrio's case has dismayed us and only reveals the lack of understanding towards those who live with health problems and have found relief with the medicinal use of cannabis. It is a reality for those who have begun this path, the same one developing in much of the world, dedicated to accompanying other patients with their crops and teaching them how to make their medicinal formulations. Demetrio is not only a patient. He has been proactive in generating ties with his community and helping those in need. The cultivation of cannabis for personal and medicinal use is legal in Chile, and the courts in the different regions of the country have not yet unified their criteria, affecting in this case someone who has nothing to do with criminal acts."

The Chilean Public Prosecutor's Office Asks for 10-year Sentence for "Illegal Cultivation"

Jiménez explains lawyers are preparing the appeal to the ruling, meanwhile, he makes the most of the time with his family before he is remanded in custody again. The uncertainty makes him question how three doctors can validate his diagnosis and treatment and, even so, that the Public Prosecutor's Office treats him as a criminal.

For her part, Congresswoman Ana María Gazmuri, founder of Fundación Daya, points out that "it is painful, and outrageous, to see such senselessness; particularly at this point, ignoring the widespread national reality of medicinal cannabis, its development and the democratization of its access for patients. People like Demetrio have played a key role as active members of their communities. He accompanied and trained many families who needed access to the medicinal uses of this plant. The law 20,000 prosecutes trafficking, the protected legal right being public health. Demetrio did not traffic, as was demonstrated, and was an active collaborator in improving the health of his community. This absurdity must end, this cannot continue to happen in Chile".

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