The Czech Republic's oldest rehab center cautions on green-lighting weed

Experts at Apolinář Addiction Clinic warned against legalizing marijuana as the facility marked 75 years since its founding. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 10.09.2023 10:00:00 (updated on 11.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Doctors at Prague's Apolinář Addiction Clinic, the oldest Czech alcohol treatment center, warned against legalizing marijuana as the facility marked 75 years since its founding. In an interview with the Czech website Deník N, clinic director Petr Popov said legalization could mean "another large group of patients" joining their ranks.

Head of the Addiction Clinic, Michal Miovský, agreed saying that marijuana should not, for example, be the subject of advertising given that it was "a very sensitive topic [...] We stand for decriminalization and depenalization, but what is unacceptable to us is commercialization," he said.

Czechia's national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil, however, dismissed the concerns. He noted the Netherlands has allowed cannabis for decades with no resulting problems. Vobořil added that marijuana patients make up a tiny fraction of overall rehab clients. Additionally, he said more Czech youth end up in intensive care each year due to alcohol overdoses than issues related to marijuana.

When it opened in 1951, the alcohol detention center at Apolinář in Prague became the first such facility in the world to establish a holding station where alcoholics could sober up before going on to seek treatment.

Alena Šebková, chair of the Professional Society of Pediatric Practitioners, expressed reservations about legalization sending the wrong message to children. Šebková said that the state struggles to regulate addictive products due to industry lobbying.

In contrast, Vobořil argued legalization could help young people in need of assistance, using the example of a friend afraid to seek help after a cannabis-related anxiety episode. He said he respects the clinic's differing opinion.

Over 100,000 Czech teens regularly binge drink and 40,000 smoke. Experts termed the country's youth the most addicted in Europe. Isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic also increased technology and pornography dependence. New addictions like kratom and HHC are emerging as well. The Apolinář clinic is training doctors to better identify addiction signs in children and expectant mothers.

While the government aims to legalize cannabis, there is no unified position. The opposition conservative KDU-ČSL remains against legalization, whereas the pro-legalization Pirate Party strongly supports the change.

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