Czech Health Ministry moves to ban seven more psychoactive substances

As neighboring Germany legalizes pot, Czechia struggles to contain a wave of semi-synthetic cannabinoids; critics say a ban isn't the answer.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 03.04.2024 11:36:00 (updated on 03.04.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

In Germany on Monday, crowds gathered at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to celebrate the official legalization of recreational marijuana use. The new rules allow adults to possess small amounts of the drug for personal use – making Germany the third country in Europe, after Malta and Luxembourg – to remove cannabis from the official list of banned substances.

In neighboring Czechia, marijuana use remains illegal. However, authorities are facing challenges in controlling the increasing trend of using synthetic cannabinoids. As per a draft government regulation obtained by ČTK, the Ministry of Health proposes banning a host of cannabinoid-derived substances. Meanwhile, critics argue that a rapid ban may not solve the problem.

Earlier ban on HHC took effect in March

In March, a government ban on the possession and sale of HHC, HHC-O, and THCP substances took effect after numerous children were hospitalized for consuming these drugs in candy form. The European Commission also approved the temporary regulation, which carries potential prison terms of up to eight years for large quantities.

Despite the ban, new variants of the drug have emerged, with shops now offering products containing substances like HHCPO, HHCP, or THC-B.

The surge in the availability of semi-synthetic cannabinoids derived from HHC and THCP has led the Ministry of Health to recommend the inclusion of HHCP, HHCH, HHCB, HHC-C8, THCH, THCB, and THC-C8 to its list of banned addictive substances, citing health concerns.

“In addition, sellers now offer new structures of cannabinoids in the form of acetates, the use of which in the form of vaping can represent a significant risk to human health,” the ministry said in a statement. Health officials warn that vaping liquid acetate at high temperatures can produce dangerous ketones.

The Health Ministry has proposed permanently banning the seven new compounds while the temporary ban on HHC, HHC-O, and THCP will come under review in 2025.

Critics: A rapid ban isn't the answer

Critics contend that while these measures address immediate concerns, they fail to address irresponsible manufacturers evading regulations. Many argue for a more comprehensive overhaul of the law to effectively tackle the problem, a sentiment echoed by critics of the rapid ban.

As the Czech government aims to preempt unscrupulous sellers by prohibiting a significant number of new substances with psychoactive effects and their derivatives, opponents emphasize the necessity for stronger legislation.

Jan Martin Paďouk, head of development and research at drugs-research firm CannaFamily, told the Czech publication Reflex that a reasonable solution lies in the law on psychomodulating substances, currently in the second reading in the Chamber of Deputies.

“It lays down clear rules for placing similar substances on the market in the future,” Paďouk said, adding, “In my opinion, the only real solution to eliminate this problem would be a regulated cannabis market for so-called adult use.”

The debate over the commercial legalization of cannabis has stalled among politicians, with no significant progress made. Lawmakers must reach a consensus on the framework for new legislation regarding psychomodulating substances by January 2025, which marks the end of the current ban.

Do you agree with the new ban on synthetic cannabinoids?

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No 64 %
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