Czech Parliament advances bill to liberalize medical cannabis

The Lower House of the Czech Parliament approved draft amendments to the country’s laws governing the production and prescription of medical cannabis and hemp

On Wednesday, June 2, the Czech Parliament approved draft amendments to the country’s laws governing the liberalization of hemp. The main provisions of the amended bill mainly concern the production and prescription of medical cannabis, the export, marketing and authorization of extracts such as isolates and tinctures. The electronic cannabis prescribing system will be updated to make the process easier for doctors and patients. Hemp products containing less than 1% THC will not be considered addictive substances, which opens the way for the cultivation and production of products with these concentrations.

The Czech Republic is a pioneer country in the regulation of substances such as cannabis, especially in terms of risk reduction and patient access. Under the laws in force since 2010, possession or use of any personal amount of drugs is not a criminal offense. Medical cannabis has been legally accessible in the Czech Republic since 2013. However, access to legally prescribed products did not gain traction until 2018 and has grown exponentially since. This was helped by recent legislation in effect since 2020, meaning that 90% of the cost of medical cannabis must be covered by insurance agencies for amounts of up to 30g per month.

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The Czech Republic is forging its own path

The bill has now cleared the biggest hurdle on the way to legislation. The Senate and President must now consider the bill before it is officially accepted, but local advocates are optimistic that Wednesday’s approval means the odds are good and that goal will be met.

The approval of the bill by Parliament is an important milestone for patients and advocates of medical cannabis in the Czech Republic. This bill could do a lot to advance medical cannabis and hemp in the country, but a lot of that hinges on the implementation of laws and task forces and many of those details have yet to be worked out.

The growth observed in recent years has continued to this day and will likely continue for a few years. In the first four months of 2021, more than 2,419 patients were prescribed 31.6 kilograms of medical cannabis, more than double the amount for the same period in 2020.

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Patient access to cannabis remains limited in the Czech Republic

Despite the considerable progress made in recent years in terms of access to medical cannabis, the number of patients with access to legally prescribed products remains extremely low. The Czech Republic has a population of around 10.65 million, of which around 3,500, or 0.04%, obtained medical cannabis legally in 2020. For comparison, Michigan in the United States, which has a slightly smaller population. than in the Czech Republic, has 250,000 active patients, or 2.5% of the population. In Germany, we estimate that around 0.1% of adults access medical cannabis each year, twice the frequency of Czechoslovakia.

One of the main issues holding back the growth of patient access in the Czech Republic is that regulations have prevented the cultivation of medical cannabis and the marketing of products outside of a strictly controlled and competitive bidding process. a limited system of imports.

To date, the only domestic medical cannabis supplied to Czech patients comes from a single producer and distributor under contract with the state (Elkoplast and Alliance Healthcare). Under the new legislation, licenses to grow and manufacture medical cannabis products will be available to private groups, which should increase the availability and diversity of products and lower the end price for patients.

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