Death penalty possible in Myanmar cannabis farm case

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.

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

The company which 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.