Tag: czech republic

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Cannabis Legalization In The Czech Republic Is Taking Shape

A country that should be on your global cannabis legalization radar, if it is not already, is the Czech Republic. As we previously reported, Czechia’s top drug policy expert indicated that his country would follow Germany’s lead on adult-use reform, and this last week demonstrated that to some degree.

On Wednesday ministers from Germany’s government held a press conference in which they presented a two-faceted legalization plan, with the first involving the legalization of possession, home cultivation, and noncommercial cannabis clubs. The second facet will involve the rollout of adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs.

The following day news broke in the Czech Republic about the nation’s own plans to pass an adult-use legalization measure, which will differ from Germany in some regards. Per Expats CZ:

With the symbolic “420” celebration just a week away, cannabis smokers in Czechia may have a new reason to smile. Czechia plans to introduce a new, regulated cannabis market allowing people to consume up to 5 grams of cannabis recreationally per day, and legalize the growth and distribution of the drug.

Seznam Zprávy reports that under the government’s new plans, consumers would need to register in a database, and growers and sellers would need to pay annual fees. According to the state’s anti-drug policy coordinator Jindřich Vobořil and the Pirate Party, which is part of the current coalition, the proposal could earn the government around CZK 2 billion per year.

Consumers being required to register in a government database under the Czech Republic’s reported plan is somewhat unique for a national legalization model, however, it’s not an unheard of concept in general. For contextual purposes, consider that the adult-use cannabis pilot program operating in Basel, Switzerland right now also requires registration.

According to Expats‘ reporting, “Growing hemp on larger plots of land would cost hundreds of thousands of crowns, and an independent shop that wants to sell cannabis would need to pay a once-yearly free, starting at about CZK 50,000.”

As part of its reporting, Expats conducted an online poll regarding adult-use cannabis reform in the Czech Republic, and as of this article’s posting 92% of survey respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Do you agree with the government’s plans to regulate the recreational cannabis market?”

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Why Is The Czech Republic Punishing A Cannabis Educator?

The cannabis reform movement, as with any meaningful social movement, would not be possible without people spreading education. Cannabis educators are vital because without them there would be a vast knowledge void, and that knowledge void would be filled entirely by cannabis opponents as history has clearly demonstrated.

For several decades positive cannabis knowledge and information were suppressed by governments worldwide. Those that tried to spread the truth and facts were sometimes targeted. Unfortunately, that censorship continues to this day, including in countries that you may not have expected.

Robert Veverka is a journalist and director of the Czech-based cannabis magazine LegalizaceBack in October 2021, I published an article about Robert being targeted by the Czech government over his journalism, with the government accusing him of “inciting and promoting toxicomania.”

Legalizace is a bimonthly periodical focused on cannabis, as well as drug policy relating to human rights and environmental issues. Here in the United States where I live and conduct similar efforts, what Veverka did is well within the parameters of legal speech/expression. Legalizace clearly provides content that possesses significant scientific, political, and literary value.

“The prosecution, which is calculated, stigmatizing, borderline untruthful, and based on fallacious conjectures and limited interpretation by the police that the cultivation and processing of cannabis is automatically illegal or that any mention of cannabis automatically equates ‘inciting toxicomania’, comprises a dangerous precedent comparable to totalitarian repression and censorship.” Robert Veverka stated back in late 2021 regarding the initial indictment.

“I consider it my duty to fight not only for the right of Legalizace magazine to exist, but also for the rights of all print and electronic media who have ever dared mention the word ‘cannabis’ – or plan to do so in the future,” Robert Veverka went on to say at the time.

Unfortunately, the Czech Republic proceeded with the indictment and in November 2021 Veverka and his media outlet were found guilty of the allegations, and Veverka was given a one-year prison sentence contingent on a probationary period of two and a half years as well as a fine of 50,000 CZK by the district court in Bruntál following two court hearings.

“The judge mentioned that he is not competent to assess the benefits of the current legislation, the benefits of cannabis products in healthcare, or the negative effects of cannabis use, but that he must base his verdict on the existing legislation which is binding for all. He stated that according to his judgement, Legalizace magazine evidently and factually constituted the criminal offence of inciting and promoting toxicomania.” Veverka stated at the time of the November 2021 verdict in a press release.

“He did not take into account the legislative provisions allowing for cannabis to be handled legally in certain cases or the comprehensive and educational nature of the information published in the magazine. On the contrary, the judge expressed his doubts as to whether the individuals who granted interviews to the magazine were made aware of its content and overall message. Personally, I consider the verdict to be very biased and severely restrictive of the freedom of expression, the right to express political opinion, and the right to information,” Veverka also stated.

News broke this month that Veverka was sentenced by a Czech court for similar allegations, although it’s still unclear to me from afar if that is part of an appeal attempt to the previously cited charges, or if this is a separate, additional matter. Either way, one thing that I do know is that what Veverka is being subjected to is horrific and unfair, and the global cannabis community needs to rally around him.

Veverka must reportedly pay an administrative offense of €4.000 (as a defendant and a natural person) and €6.000 on behalf of his media outlet as part of the recent verdict. For anyone that is able to support Robert Veverka and contribute to his defense, bank details are below. If you are not able to contribute financially, please help spread the word on your social channels about his plight:

IBAN: CZ4320100000002900469065
Fio banka, as, V Celnici 1028/10, 117 21 Praha 1

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Why Other European Countries Need To Be Like The Czech Republic

Ever since the dust settled on the 2021 federal election in Germany cannabis observers around the globe have kept a close eye on the cannabis policy discussions going on inside of Germany’s borders. The new governing coalition made it clear that they would work towards legalizing cannabis for adult-use in Germany, and that effort moved one step closer last month when Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made a formal presentation to the federal cabinet. The German prohibition domino is the largest in Europe, and thankfully, it appears that the Czech Republic may be on the same timeline.

As we previously reported, leading up to to the formal presentation in Germany the national anti-drug coordinator for the Czech Republic, Jindřich Vobořil, held a press conference to announce that he would be pushing for his nation to legalize cannabis for adult use, including regulated sales. Jindřich Vobořil also indicated in a social media post that the Czech Republic will proceed alongside Germany and seek to follow a similar timeline.

Coordinated Effort

As many cannabis observers have speculated, myself included, legalization in Germany will open up the floodgates to similar reform measures being adopted across the continent, if not the globe. We are now seeing some proof of that via what is going on in the Czech Republic.

“Germany and the Czech Republic go to a regulated market at the same time.” Jindřich Vobořil stated on his Facebook page. The post was made the same day that Minister Lauterbach made his formal presentation in Germany.

“Today, Germany announced through the mouth of its Minister of Health that it is launching the legislative process. It won’t be quite the free market, as some would expect. For example, colleagues from Germany talk about the allowed amount, they do not have cannabis clubs that we are supposed to. I’m pretty sure I want to hold on to cannabis clubs until my last breath. I find this model very useful, at least for the first years.” Vobořil went on to state in his post.

“However, we are in live contact with our colleagues from Germany and have repeatedly confirmed that we want to coordinate ourselves, even practically by consulting each other on our proposals. I will also want their expert assessment of our proposals, which we will prepare in the above mentioned working expert group.” Vobořil also stated in his Facebook post.

A Growing Coalition

The push in the Czech Republic is significant beyond just the nation’s own borders, and beyond the borders of Germany as well. As we discussed in a prior article, Germany’s next step in the process is to try to gain approval from the European Union (EU) for its legalization plan, and that the approval would need to be granted prior to a measure being officially introduced. From that perspective, every EU nation that pursues legalization alongside Germany is significant, including the Czech Republic.

I am hopeful that with the winds of change picking up in the Czech Republic that it will encourage other European countries to get on the same path. It’s reportedly the goal for legalization measures to be introduced in both Germany and the Czech Republic in early 2023, and hopefully that will be followed by regulated sales being launched in both nations in 2024.

As I have repeatedly pointed out in my articles, there is an opportunity cost for every European nation that drags it feet on legalization, and that will become more apparent as the legalization process goes along. As Germany continues to inch towards launching the world’s largest regulated adult-use market, the publishing of industry projections will increase and the numbers are sure to be staggering.

It’s being reported that Germany will not be able to import cannabis for the adult-use market, and that creates opportunities in other countries to stand up their own regulated adult-use industries, which is something that the Czech Republic has apparently already picked up on. Hopefully they are not alone among European countries in recognizing that a sensible approach to cannabis policy is better than the failed prohibition status quo, and that Germany’s robust legalization model is a better fit for countries compared to Malta’s current limited legalization model.

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