Targeting Cannabis, Czech Republic Takes Aim at… Gardening Stores?

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Michal Otipka one of the Czech Republic’s most influential cannabis entrepreneurs. He’s also a self-defense instructor. But when it comes to taking on the country’s court system, he’s powerless.

Otipka runs Czechia’s largest grow stores, which offer an array of wares such as cultivation media, nutrients, and lighting systems. The goods are legal, but perhaps due to Otipka’s success he’s become the fall guy in the country’s war on drugs — or, more specifically, the nation’s war on indoor gardening shops.

Back in autumn of 2013, Otipka’s two shops were among dozens raided by Czech police as part of Czechia’s biggest anti-drug operation in modern history. Police justified the raids by arguing the shop owners were promoting drug addiction. 

In the vast majority of court cases against owners of smaller grow shops, the judges sided with police. Most owners were found guilty but sentenced only to probation; no one was sent...

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