Global Report: Czech Republic

In Feature Stories, Global by Chris Hogg

Long known for having a very liberal approach to recreational cannabis use, the Czech Republic officially legalized medical marijuana in April 2013. The plant is available for sale in pharmacies, and medical patients will not be able to grow their own marijuana under the legislation; they will need to get a doctor’s prescription and then get their treatment in a pharmacy.

It’s been reported Prague will first import marijuana for about a year from Israel or the Netherlands, until the State Institute for Drug Control starts issuing licences to local growers for a maximum of five years.

According to the United Nations’ 2011 World Drug Report, Czechs are the biggest users of cannabis in Europe, with 15.2 percent of adults in the country saying they had used it at least once in the past year. In Western and Central Europe, the average is around 7.1 percent of adults.

In 2012, Dr. Tomáš Zábranský, a leading drug expert who was involved in the medical marijuana legalization process, said about the med-cannabis: “It does represent relief. This was a proposal which was originally pushed forward and driven by pressure from patients’ organisations, people suffering with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses, so I am very happy that legislators in Parliament took this up and have promised to push it through the Chamber of Deputies.”

In Summary:

  • Medical marijuana became legal April 2013 and is now available for sale in pharmacies. Non-medical marijuana smokers can possess up to a half-ounce and grow five plants without facing criminal sanctions.
  • Prague will first import marijuana for about a year, reportedly from Israel or the Netherlands, until the State Institute for Drug Control starts issuing licences to local growers for a maximum of five years.
  • One of the country’s medical marijuana crusaders is Dusan Dvorak, who leads the Czech non-profit Konopi je Lek, or Marijuana is Medicine.
  • According to the United Nations’ 2011 World Drug Report, Czechs are the biggest users of cannabis in Europe, with 15.2% of adults in the country saying they had used it at least once in the past year, whereas in Western and Central Europe the average is around 7.1%of adults.