PRAGUE — President Vaclav Klaus signed into law Friday a bill that legalizes medical marijuana in the Czech Republic. The bill had heavy support from both ruling political parties.
Under the law, patients will need a prescription from their doctor to obtain medical marijuana from pharmacies.
Patients are not allowed to grow their own medicine, and medical marijuana will not be covered by health insurance.
While medical marijuana advocates are pleased that their government has moved to legalize the use cannabis for medicinal purposes, they are less happy with a provision that says only imported marijuana will be allowed to be sold for the first year “to ensure standards.”
That will make medical marijuana too expensive while enriching the black market and the few companies that will be selected as official traders of it.
“It’s legal, pharmaceutical and economic corruption,” said Dusan Dvorak, a medical-cannabis activist who leads the nonprofit organization Marijuana is Medicine. “The result of the law should be access to cannabis for research and medical uses. But the real result is that it won’t be made available, it’ll be more expensive, it’ll bolster the black market and the mafia.”
The State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) will supervise the import and distribution of medical marijuana.
The Czech Republic is one of the most marijuana-friendly countries in Europe. Although marijuana remains illegal, lawmakers removed all penalties for possession of up to a half ounce and cultivation of five or fewer plants in 2010. The following year, the government approved the use of medications using marijuana derivatives.