Sunday, August 14, 2022

Brazilian Cannabis Researcher’s Mistreatment Sparks Protest

Elisaldo Luiz de Araujo Carlini is one of the most revered research scientists in the world. His work has led to treatments for epilepsy and multiple sclerosis that are now standard practice around the world. And now the Brazilian scientist is under investigation for alleged “drug apology,” sparking outrage in the academic community.

Dr. Carlini’s career studying the psychological effects of drugs spans more than six decades. The popular scientist helped organize last May’s marijuana symposium in Brazil. Last month, the emeritus professor of pharmacology at the Federal University of SĂŁo Paulo and director of the Brazilian Centre for Information on Psychotropic Drugs, was questioned by law enforcement officials for his open advocacy of medical marijuana.

According to the Times of Higher Education, the controversy began when Dr. Carlini said he had invited Geraldo Antonio Baptista, the founder of Brazil’s first Rastafarian church and a convicted drug trafficker, to speak at last May’s event. Dr. Carlini had requested Baptista be given temporary leave from prison to attend.

This request prompted the public prosecutor in São Paulo to claim she saw “in theory, strong hints of incitement.”

The government’s action appears to have backfired. A large group of scientists, academics and free speech advocates are protesting what they say is an attack on academic freedom.

The Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science defended Dr. Carlini. A joint statement from the two bodies said:

Dr Carlini remains the most respected Brazilian scientist working in the area of drugs. To accuse [him] of apologizing for drugs amounts to criminalizing intelligence and technical scientific knowledge. It is a cruel and empty provocation against a scientist who has dedicated his whole life to the frontier of knowledge.

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