Police Probe of Brazilian Marijuana Researcher Sparks Protests

Police Probe of Brazilian Marijuana Researcher Sparks Protests

Researchers are concerned about potential restrictions to academic freedom.

March 9, 2018

A police investigation targeting Brazil’s most prominent marijuana researcher has ignited a wave of protest among scientists. They say that the move by authorities from the state of São Paulo threatens research freedoms at a time when science in the country faces severe problems because of draconian budget cuts.

Police questioned Elisaldo Carlini, a retired professor of psychopharmacology at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), on 21 February on suspicion of inciting drug crime, according to authorities. They are still investigating the case and have not charged Carlini with anything.

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According to documents from Rosemary Porcelli da Silva, the public prosecutor in São Paulo state who requested opening the case against Carlini, she saw “in theory, strong hints of incitement” in a marijuana symposium that he organized in May last year. One of the proposed guest speakers was the head of the Rastafari church in Brazil, who is still serving jail time under drug trafficking charges and did not participate in the symposium. Marijuana use, production and sale are illegal in Brazil. Da Silva declined to comment on the inquiry.

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