American man charged with violating drug laws

22 May 2019
American man charged with violating drug laws
U.S. national John Fredric Todorok (left) leaves a local court on March 7 after being arrested for operating a marijuana plantation in Ngazun Township, Mandalay region, central Myanmar. Photo: Bo Bo/Mizzima

A court in Myanmar has formally charged an American man and two local co-workers with violating drug laws concerning marijuana, with potential penalties ranging from five years' imprisonment to death, VOA reported.

The court in the central Mandalay region charged John Frederic Todoroki with violating five sections of the drugs and narcotics law covering possession, sale and trafficking of illegal drugs, lawyer Thein Than Oo said by phone. The defendants contend they were growing hemp, not marijuana. Both are subspecies of the cannabis plant genus.

The company that operates the 20-acre (8-hectare) farm on an industrial estate where police arrested the three late last month says it had official permission from the Mandalay regional government to grow hemp, which can be processed into CBD — cannabidiol — a non-intoxicating compound that many believe has health benefits.

Hemp can be grown legally in many countries, and is often used for making CBD products. Myanmar law does not seem to clearly distinguish between hemp and marijuana, the report said.