The Czech Republic (also referred to as Czechia) government recently published its draft regulations for cannabis cultivation and consumption on Jan. 10, but it isn’t the version that was expected.
According to Expats.cz, the Czech Pirate Party (a liberal party that joined the government in 2021 and has been a strong supporter of cannabis legalization) described the new cannabis bill as a “compromise version,” but that they will further negotiate to have other important issues included as well.
“The proposed bill includes rules for legal cultivation, operation of cannabis clubs, licensed sales and exports, and taxation,” Expats.cz reported. “It also sets restrictions on production and sales, and proposes registration of users, small growers, and cannabis clubs (cafés or meetup spots where people can freely smoke marijuana).”
National Coordinator for Drug Policy Jindřich Vobořil told the news outlet about the expectation for cultivation. “We have agreed on the self-cultivation of a limited number of plants. This will mean decriminalization for adults who grow a small amount of cannabis for their own use,” Vobořil said. Additionally, he stated that this version hasn’t been reviewed by the government, so it could possibly include a cannabis association that allows members to share their yields.
Vobořil told Expats.cz that he is not ready to give up on a regulated industry in the Czech Republic. “At present, cannabis is decriminalized in Czechia, but using it recreationally is illegal,” Vobořil said. “Czechia has one of the more liberal stances on cannabis in Europe, with people in Czechia even allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants at home for personal use. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legal for 10 years in Czechia.”
Aside from the Czech Pirates, other political parties such as the KDU-ČSL (translated to the Christian and Democratic Union) oppose cannabis overall, but still agree that cultivation regulation is necessary. “We have long opposed the idea of marijuana becoming part of retail and wholesale trade, but we don’t see the point in unnecessarily persecuting people who grow a few plants for their own use,” said KDU-ČSL First Deputy Chairman/Chamber of Duties Jan Bartošek.
Some legislators such as Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný are concerned that increasing access to legal cannabis would eventually lead to increased spending on addiction and prevention programs by the government. Organizations such as Safe Cannabis Association, Czehemp, Legalizace.cz all showed support for the recent draft, especially removing penalties for possession, but expressed the “fundamental lack” of strict regulations and the plan to deal with illegal producers.
A draft for cannabis regulation has been a work in progress since October 2022, and was initially submitted by the Pirate Party. “Through taxation, we will get billions of crowns a year and at the same time prevent unnecessary expenses on repression. In addition, if we succeed in launching a regulated market together with the German one, it will mean huge opportunities for our economy in the field of exports,” the Pirate Party wrote.
In April 2023, the Czech Cabinet announced a national effort to fix its addiction crisis. It described a plan that would persist through 2025 including: establishing a legal and regulated a cannabis market, to change its current tax policy and bring in $CZK 15 billion per year, and to establish an agency to tackle prevention and treatment for those suffering from addiction to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and gambling.
Also in April, the government proposed regulations such as allowing people to consume five grams per day, cultivation, requiring that consumers register in a database, and establishing annual fees for cultivations and distributors.
According to 2022 data from the Czech National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, more than 800,000 people in the Czech Republic use cannabis, and one-third of people have tried it in the past.
In March 2023, the Editor in Chief of the Czech Republic cannabis magazine Legalizace, Robert Veverka, was found guilty of “inciting the abuse of addictive substances” and “spreading drug addiction through his magazine.” The magazine included content on how to cultivate and process cannabis flower among other things, and occasionally included seed packets. In an exclusive interview, Veverka discussed his reaction to the verdict. “I feel branded, damaged, and personally disgusted. Unfortunately, the verdict lends credence to the prosecution’s case, which reflects an ignorance of cannabis legislation and is based on a general repressive view that positive information about cannabis is unacceptable to the establishment,” Veverka told Cannabis Therapy. “Moreover, according to my three-year prosecution and the court’s verdict, publishing is even an illegal activity.”
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Europe, surrounded by Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland. Germany in particular has been slowly working on its own draft regulations for cannabis, which could possibly be coming as soon as April 2024. Meanwhile, Austria has no plans for adult-use cannabis regulation, but medical cannabis is legal. The same goes for Poland, which doesn’t allow adult-use cannabis but does allow its use for medical cannabis. Both medical and adult-use is illegal in Slovakia, but it does allow limited cannabis cultivation for research purposes only. A European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction published in June 2023 stated that cannabis is the “most commonly consumed illicit drug in Europe.” (Full Story)