Prague's Million Marijuana March and the future of legalization in Czechia

Legalization of marijuana could happen within a year if a new draft law is passed; its supporters will gather in the Czech capital today.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 07.09.2022 10:42:00 (updated on 11.09.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

In countries like Canada and the U.S., the marijuana market is flourishing. Here you can walk into numerous depositories where your local "budtender" will recommend edibles, smokeables, and everything in between.

Legalization has failed to come to Czechia however, despite the ongoing misconception of the country as a party haven with liberal drug laws. In fact, the reality is just the opposite: though possession is decriminalized, recreational use remains illegal.

That could all change rather quickly if a proposed new law making it legal for those over 18 to grow, sell, and buy marijuana passes next year. The law, drafted by the national anti-drug coordinator and leading drug expert Jindřich Vobořil, has the support of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, reports Czech server iDnes.cz.

"We will still work out the details, but the change in the rules will bring a number of benefits: reduction of the black market and organized crime, taxed billions for the state, prosperity for farmers and producers of hemp products, greater control over the recreational use of marijuana, and, above all, better protection of children," said Vobořil.

A cost analysis conducted by Czechia's pro-pot Pirate party shows the state could garner CZK 660 million to CZK 1.8 billion in taxes from cannabis cultivation alone.

Vobořil will discuss regulated cannabis markets across Europe in Prague on Wednesday with drug coordinators from other European countries as part of the Czech presidency of the Council of the EU. He says that Germany and several other EU countries are making similar moves toward legalization. 

Proponents of legalization argue that it allows for the establishment of rules and limits the availability of cannabis to children and teenagers and that it saves the state costs of prosecuting small growers and users. Czech experts on the social and health impact of addiction, also support the change pointing to the reduction of crime in Canada and other countries where cannabis has been legalized.

While the law seems to have its fair share of supporters among Czech politicians, some are raising concerns. Members of the populist SPD and ANO parties are speaking out against the law saying it presents health risks for the younger generation.

Opponents including police officer Jakub Frydrych, head of the National Anti-Drug Headquarters, argue that Czechia already has one of Europe's most liberal drug policies and that regulation wouldn't affect use but only production and distribution.

Pre-rolled joints and buds on sale at a dispensary / iStock: AYEHAB
Pre-rolled joints and buds on sale at a dispensary / iStock: AYEHAB

"Most of those prosecuted receive a monetary or suspended sentence. In the last five years, only 22 people have gone to prison because of cannabis. They were those who committed criminal activities on a large scale," Frydrych told iDnes.cz.

The Legalizace.cz association has been pushing for reforms to Czech cannabis laws for decades. The group's leader Robert Veverka was recently fined for publishing his Legalizace magazine, a charge the Prague 2 Pirate member plans to appeal.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, Legalizace.cz is organizing a protest in Prague's Old Town that will call on Czech politicians, experts, and the drug coordinators of European countries to end the ongoing "stigmatization, criminal prosecution, and prohibition of marijuana."

The Million Marijuana March takes place in Old Town Square at (when else?) 4:20 p.m. with the support of Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib who, as a press release states "is the first mayor in history to support this justified expression of disagreement with the criminalization of cannabis and its users."

Should marijuana be legalized in the Czech Republic?

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