Cofee-shop and Personal Culture at the Center of Discussions, towards the Liberalization of Cannabis in the Czech Republic
The Czech government presented a law Project on the regulation of cannabis which aims to liberalize certain aspects of the cultivation and use of cannabis. However, the draft does not include previous plans to regulate the domestic cannabis market.
A Bill Focused on Culture, Clubs and Taxation
The proposed bill includes rules for legal cultivation, operation of cannabis clubs, licensed sales and exports, and taxation. It also establishes restrictions on production and sale, and proposes registration of users, small cultivators and cannabis clubs (cafes or meeting places where people can freely smoke cannabis). Jindřich Vobořil, national anti-drugs coordinator, participated in the drafting of the bill and cited Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Malta as countries following a similar approach. The Pirates want to discuss extending the bill to allow pilot testing of a regulated market.
Objective of Fighting Addiction
The proposed bill is part of the plan of Czech governmente to fight addiction with measures by the end of 2025. It stipulates that the regulation of addictive substances will correspond to their level of harmfulness. The government also aims to implement a policy based on a “scientifically proven and balanced approach to risk prevention and harm reduction” in the fight against addiction.
Call for a Regulated Market
According to Vobořil, a regulated market for cannabis would allow better control and prevention. He is also convinced that the state could generate billions of crowns in taxes every year. “I am not giving up. There is a chance,” Vobořil said of the potential introduction of a regulated cannabis market.
Currently, the cannabis is decriminalized in the Czech Republic, but its recreational use is illegal. The country has one of the most liberal stances on cannabis in Europe, even allowing people to grow up to five cannabis plants at home for personal use. The use of cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in the Czech Republic for 10 years.
Ongoing Debates on Large-Scale Regulation
A group of experts has been working on the project since the end of 2022, and Vobořil presented the outline of the law to the leaders of the coalition parties last fall. Although there is consensus on certain points, political debate persists, particularly around cannabis clubs.
In April last year, the government outlined plans for a regulated market that would allow the daily consumption of up to 5 grams of cannabis for recreational purposes, as well as the growth and distribution of the drug. Consumers would have to register in a database, and growers and sellers would have to pay annual fees.
Klara Kocmanová, Member of Parliament for the Pirates, expressed support for the bill, saying the current approach to criminalizing cannabis has not been effective. She believes that the proposed bill will allow for better prevention and treatment of addiction.
However, Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný is concerned about the potential increase in users and spending on addiction treatment and prevention programs. Pro-legalization groups, such as the Safe Cannabis Association, CzecHemp and Legalizace.cz, have welcomed the project, particularly the end of penalties for personal use of cannabis. However, they believe that a provision for a strictly regulated market is fundamentally missing. They argue that allowing personal cultivation and cannabis clubs are positive steps forward, but do not solve the problem of illegal producers and dealers who pose a risk to young people and society.