Cannabis & Czech – What are the odds of a legal adult-use market?

by Moritz Förster

Early this year, rumors were spread that Czech Republic won’t legalize the value chain for adult-use cannabis. Instead, that it what had been discussed in public, the plan would be to follow Germany’s 2-pillar-approach. Decriminalization of home grown cannabis and cannabis clubs. The news was a bit surprising as Jindřich Vobořil, National Drug Coordinator of the Czech Republic, has always been an advocate for a complete legalization of the value-chain. And indeed, a legal value chain is still possible as the whole discussion was not even based on any draft of a law. And even after the first draft of the law this would still be adjusted based on parliament discussion.

Cannabis & Czech - What are the odds of a legal adult-use market?

Tom Vymazal, a former Member of the Parliament for the Pirate party, and Lukas Hurt, manager of CzechHemp cluster and the vice president of the NGO Legalizace,cz and the publisher of the only cannabis magazine in Czech, explain why they hope that within the next 1 to 1.5 years Czech Republic will legalize the whole value chain. They also outline the current misunderstanding of home grown opportunities which cause a lot of trouble for consumers and the main obstacles for a new cannabis policy. In general, Tom and Lukas argue, support of a progressive cannabis policy is huge. Though regarding the medical markets patient numbers are still low compared to Germany even though insurances cover 90% of the costs. The problem is that only few physicians are allowed to prescribe medical cannabis.

A discussion about similarities and differences of the evolving cannabis policy in Germany and Czech Republic, what we can learn from each other – and why the “domino game” in Europe has just begun.

Topics of this podcast:

What is the current policy process and what kind of support is happening?

Germany has decriminalized adult-use cannabis consumption and cultivation for personal use. Some experts always speak about domino effects. Is Germany a role model for Czech Republic?

In Germany opponents argue that the home grow will support the illicit market and might increase cannabis consumption. Czech has already decriminalized cultivation and possession to some extent 2010. What have been the effects of this policy?

What is the opinion of the population nowadays like?

Jindřich Vobořil, National Drug Coordinator of the Czech Republic, has always been an advocate for a complete legalization of the value-chain.Though the last news, beginning of this year, was that Czech will choose a similar way as Germany. What have been the reasons for Czech to downsize the “legalization” in January this year?

The government will focus on three pillars: Home Grown, Clubs, adult use market. How will these pillars will be regulated?

In Malta we still see only a limited effect of the production in the clubs. In Germany clubs are also criticised as over-regulated. Is the club model the way to go in Europe?

Switching the focus on the medical market: Regarding volume currently the medical market was affected most: Since medical cannabis is not a narcotic anymore numbers of patients are growing rapidly. In Czech medical cannabis was already legalized in 2013, four years prior to Germany, how many patients exist in Czech nowadays?

The situation is different: In Germany we estimate that more or less half of the patients are self-payers. In Czech all patients have 90% of the costs covered by their health insurance. What are the conditions for becoming a cannabis patient in Czech?

Germany will get rid of the tender approach and liberalize cultivation. Any plans in Czech for a similar approach?

In Germany, the conservative opposition was fighting against the cannabis law until the last minute. How strong is the resistance in the Czech opposition against a new, progressive cannabis law?

What are the next milestones within the policy process?

Currently we don’t see any real activity to change the EU framework decision from 2004. Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, Czech have been in informal discussions. Could you imagine a European wide support for cannabis policy change in the upcoming years?

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