When the law on medical marihuana came into force in February of last year it seemed that the way was now open for patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases to use the drug under medical supervision without having to acquire it secretly in violation of the law. However, despite the good intentions of MPs who pushed through the legislation, little has changed in the past year and cannabis remains unavailable legally.
The Czech Republic’s parliament legalized medical marijuana this year by an overwhelming majority, with the law becoming effective April 1. But some 20,000 patients who are estimated to be eligible for cannabis treatment have no chance to get it legally — although so far police have largely ignored renegade growers who technically would face prison. Patients and medical experts blame interference by the Health Ministry, which has long fiercely opposed legalizing medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana may soon be legally sold and available via doctors' prescriptions, with senators overwhelmingly approving the legislation in a 60-7 vote Jan. 30. The bill, which now awaits a presidential signature, marks a major step toward official acceptance of marijuana use in the country, after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Fischer decriminalized possession of "small amounts" of marijuana for personal use in 2009.
The Czech Senate approved a bill allowing for the legal sale of cannabis for medical purposes, affirming a decision of the country’s lower house of parliament. The proposal, which enjoys very strong support from all political parties in both houses of parliament, should become law later this year, pending an expected presidential signature. But there’s a catch: the text of the bill says that only imported cannabis will be allowed for sale in the first year “to ensure standards.”
The Czech Republic already has one of the world’s most liberal approach to recreational drug possession. And it will get more liberal still: beginning next year the government will allow marijuana to be distributed by pharmacies for patients with a prescription. Lawmakers in parliament’s lower house overwhelmingly passed a bill clearing the way for legal, but regulated medical marijuana on December 7.
A group of Czech MPs from all of the parties in the Chamber of Deputies has completed legislation which could legalise the use of cannabis in the Czech Republic for medical purposes. Currently, thousands of sufferers from debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s, Lyme borreliosis and multiple sclerosis, have been forced to break the law to obtain marijuana to help ease their pain, a situation which could soon change if the bill passes in the lower house. According to reports, the medical use of cannabis in the Czech Republic could be legal within the year.
A government expert group is adding finishing touches to new draft legislation proposing the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. While still banning patients from growing medical cannabis on their own, the amended legislation allows importing as well as the cultivation of medical hemp by local private companies under strict state supervision. The committee, whose existence was prompted by a petition initiated earlier this year by doctors, researchers and patients and is supported by the chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament, is supposed to submit the final draft proposal to the Prime Minister in about a week’s time.
A group of medical and criminal law experts are moving forward with drafting a plan that would clear marijuana for medicinal use. "There is a consensus between parties in the coalition and with the opposition that making marijuana legal for medical purposes is a good thing," said National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, deputy chairman of the committee drafting the proposal.
Czech health experts are in favor of allowing medical marijuana to be prescribed for a wide range of conditions with home grown marijuana in the Czech Republic used to compliment imports, according to a working group paving the way for medical marijuana to be offered for the first time in the country. The head of the working group, Tomáš Zima, who is rector of the medical faculty at Prague’s Charles University, initially indicated that the Czech Republic would favor imports alone when expected legal changes allowing marijuana to be prescribed for patients are completed.
The Czech Ministry of Health has indicated that it will take marijuana off the list of banned substances and allow it to be prescribed by doctors for its medical effects. “By the end of this year we will submit to parliament an amended law on addictive substances which will move marihuana from the list of banned substances to the list of those which can be prescribed,” Deputy Health Minister Martin Plíšek pledged.
The organisers of a Czech petition for the legalisation of cannabis in medical treatment have asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to support the relevant changes in legislation. The petition committee, including doctors, patients and scientists, recalls that it does not seek the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use. Since its launch on August 16, the petition has been signed by almost 5,000 people.
Czech doctors, patients and scientists launched a petition for the legal use of marijuana in treating sclerosis multiplex, the Parkinson disease, cancer and the AIDS in the Czech Republic whose legislation bans such practice. The petitioners say the ban breaches people's free choice of treatment methods and want it to be lifted. They give research results and practice in foreign countries as arguments in support of their demand.