Cannabis cafés and self-growing: Czechia presents draft of new marijuana law

Under new plans, Czechia plans to liberalize aspects of cannabis growth and use, but has omitted previous plans to regulate the domestic cannabis market. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 11.01.2024 10:29:00 (updated on 11.01.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech government Wednesday presented a draft of a cannabis regulation bill that, crucially, does not include the previously envisioned regulated cannabis market. The Pirates party, which has traditionally been a strong advocate of cannabis legalization, stated that the text was a "compromise version" and they plan to negotiate additions to the bill. 

The proposed bill includes rules for legal cultivation, operation of cannabis clubs, licensed sales and exports, and taxation. It also sets restrictions on production and sales, and proposes registration of users, small growers, and cannabis clubs (cafés or meetup spots where people can freely smoke marijuana).

National anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, who helped draft the bill, has cited Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Malta as countries following a similar approach. The Pirates want to discuss an extension of the bill to allow for a pilot testing of a regulated market.

The proposed bill is a part of the Czech government's plan to combat addiction with measures until the end of 2025. It states that the regulation of addictive substances will correspond to their level of harm. The government also aims to implement a policy based on a "scientifically proven and balanced approach to risk prevention and harm reduction" when dealing with addiction.

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Anti-drug chief pushing for regulated market

According to Vobořil, a regulated market for cannabis would allow for better control and prevention. He also believes that the state could generate billions of crowns in taxes each year. "I am not giving up. There is a chance," Vobořil said about the potential introduction of a regulated cannabis market.

At present, cannabis is decriminalized in Czechia, but using it recreationally is illegal. Czechia has one of the more liberal stances on cannabis in Europe, with people in Czechia even allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants at home for personal use. The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has been legal for 10 years in Czechia.

A group of experts has been working on the draft since late 2022, and Vobořil presented the outlines of the law to the leaders of the coalition parties last autumn. Although there was consensus on certain points, there is still a political debate about cannabis clubs.

In April last year, the government presented plans for a regulated market that would allow people to consume up to 5 grams of cannabis recreationally per day, and legalize the growth and distribution of the drug. Consumers would need to register in a database, and growers and sellers would need to pay annual fees. 

Discussion continues on widescale regulation

Pirates member of parliament Klara Kocmanová expressed her support for the bill, stating that the current criminalizing approach to cannabis has not been effective. She believes that the proposed bill will lead to better prevention and treatment of addiction. 

However, Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný has voiced concerns about the potential increase in users and spending on addiction treatment and prevention programs.

The Safe Cannabis Association, CzecHemp, and – all pro-legalization groups – have welcomed the draft, particularly the end of punishment for personal cannabis use. However, they believe there is a "fundamental lack" of a provision for a strictly regulated market. 

They stated that allowing self-growing and cannabis clubs are positive steps, but do not address the issue of illegal producers and dealers who pose a risk to young people and society.

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