Czech Republic President, Vaclav Klaus, Signs Bill To Legalize Medicinal Marijuana
According to the Associated Press, the president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, signed a bill into law today that legalizes medical marijuana for the nation.
The bill was signed after passing with flying colors in a 67-2 vote in the Czech Senate (on Jan. 30), Lower House in early December. Patients will need a prescription from their doctor in order to obtain medical cannabis; patients are not allowed to grow their own medicine. In addition, medical marijuana will not be covered by health insurance.
The one part of the bill that raises concerns for patients is the stipulation that requires cannabis to be imported for the first year. Many are worried that importing the cannabis will hike the prices up beyond affordability while enriching the pockets of black market dealers and the mafia. During the first year, the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) will oversee the importation and distribution of cannabis throughout the country. After one year they will be registering and licensing companies to grow cannabis locally. It will be sold by prescription pharmacies.
“These medicines are proven; they’re very efficient but shouldn’t be a luxury good. That is completely unacceptable.” – Alena Gajduskova
Alena Gajduskova, the first-deputy Chairwoman of the Senate, voiced her opinion on the ruling stating, “For a long time I’ve supported enabling the medical use of cannabis…but I have to say that I’m very disappointed by what we’ve got on the table today…These medicines are proven; they’re very efficient but shouldn’t be a luxury good. That is completely unacceptable.” The chairwoman suggested that “grandmother growers,” who already grow cannabis in their gardens, be allowed to grow enough plants to hold patients over for the first year. This would at least remove the threat of black market organizations capitalizing on the situation and taking advantage of patients who truly need the medication.
“A small amount of marijuana for personal use isn’t criminalized, so if we’re able to tolerate that, I don’t see why we couldn’t tolerate the senior ‘grandmother growers’,” Gajduskova stated. Although cannabis remains illegal, the Czech Republic is known as one of the most cannabis-friendly countries in Europe. It will be interesting to see how the first year of their program plays out.