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Court Fines Advertisers of Swiss Beer for Promoting Drugs

Posted on April 12, 2004

Moscow, Russia — A Samara regional court has ruled that the makers of advertisements for the Swiss beer Hanfblute are guilty of promoting drugs after displaying a marijuana leaf along with the beer, the official ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

The court issued a fine of 40,000 rubles (over $1,300).

Regional drug enforcement authorities told the news agency that the Swiss firm launched a beer with an aroma similar to that of hemp on February 14. Prior to that, the authorities said, the beer-makers posted billboards with a marijuana leaf and the word “legalize” written in English.

Meanwhile, a group of independent experts did not find any traces of illicit substances in the beer, ITAR-TASS reported. However, experts, from the botanical department at the local state university, said that advertising posters did indeed display a marijuana leaf, “which connotes strong associations with the narcotic substance.”

The newly-created Federal Service for Drug Control has at least 40,000 officers to fight drugs in Russia. Recently the service has come under fire for its crackdown on literature that it alleges contains drug propaganda. Book stores had suspected books confiscated and were fined the same amount as the advertising agency — 40,000 rubles.

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