HIV+ woman released after marijuana bust

By: Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Kandal provincial military police yesterday released from custody a 48-year-old woman in possession of 2 kilograms of marijuana after discovering she is an HIV patient who uses the drug for medicinal purposes.

Authorities had found a cannabis patch hidden among papaya plants on Sat Leang’s property in Kien Svay district’s Phoum Thom commune on Wednesday, Yim Sokhom, Phoum Thom commune police chief said yesterday. After this discovery, they searched her home and found 2 kilograms of dried marijuana.

“The operation, which was a cooperative effort between local authorities and military police, discovered 25 cannabis plants,” Sokhom said. “We held Sat Leang after police subsequently found about 2 kilograms of marijuana inside her home in Koh Prak village.”

Leang and the evidence were brought to Kandal’s provincial police headquarters on Wednesday, Sokhom said.

Police charged Leang with illegal drug posession, said Oun Sophat, commander in chief of Kien Svay district military police. When police questioned her, she used the plant to treat the symptoms of HIV.

When authorities inquired with Kandal’s Health Department, officials produced a certificate confirming Leang’s diagnosis. Police released her from custody.

Cannabis is illegal in Cambodia, but has traditionally been used as a foodstuff. Prosecutors are now deciding whether to pursue charges.

“She was released and returned home on Thursday afternoon, after she produced her certificate from the . . . Health Department,” Sophat said. “Military police found that both she and her husband have the virus.”