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Israeli medical cannabis patient detained in Belarus

Despite activist calls for legalisation, Belarus has some of the harshest drug penalties in Europe



An Israeli medical cannabis patient has been detained in Belarus and could face up to five years in prison, despite carrying a license for the medication.

Israeli lawyer, Maya Rayten-Stol was detained in Minsk for three weeks after she entered the country with 2.5 grams of medical cannabis in her luggage. Rayten-Stol carries a license for the medication which she uses to treat various health issues.

When arrested, Rayten-Stol attempted to show the paperwork to authorities who, her family say, ignored her requests. She has been held in the Pishchalauski Castle prison for three weeks since her arrival into the country. Her family also say she has been granted one phone call during this time.

Pishchalauski Castle is the detention centre in Minsk, where political activists are usually taken. Under Belarussian law, she could face three to five years in prison if there is no intervention.

Israeli foreign minister

The Foreign Ministry has been in contact with her family and the Israeli ambassador to Belarus, Alon Shoham has been to visit Rayten-Stol.

In a televised interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news,  her mother pleaded with authorities to release her daughter:

“My daughter, my only, my beloved, was arrested in Belarus for something that, according to Israeli law, is fine, but not with them. I do not know how long it will take. She is a girl, she is a great mother, a single mother, a mother who provides lots and lots of strength to her family and they need her. I do not understand why she is not being released,” said Monica Krozensky.

She added: “I beg the prime minister, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, anyone who can help, to help. Let them bring her home to us. She should not be there. She has children who need her. We cannot wait like this. I beg of you, I beg you to bring her home.”

Belarussian laws such as article 328, surrounding cannabis are strict. The distinction between possession and intent to distribute has narrowed in recent years meaning that even small amounts could incur prison sentences of three to five years if it is determined to be over the limit. There are activist groups such as Legalize Belarus working to promote the benefits of psychedelics for health and also pushing for Belarus to decriminalise.

*As reported by Times of Israel

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