Czechia's plans to legalize cannabis: Buy up to 5 grams per day, but register in a database first

The draft new proposal, which the government will debate this month, will also make it legal for firms to grow and sell the drug for recreational purposes.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 13.04.2023 13:57:00 (updated on 13.04.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

With the symbolic "420" celebration just a week away, cannabis smokers in Czechia may have a new reason to smile. Czechia plans to introduce a new, regulated cannabis market allowing people to consume up to 5 grams of cannabis recreationally per day, and legalize the growth and distribution of the drug.

Seznam Zprávy reports that under the government’s new plans, consumers would need to register in a database, and growers and sellers would need to pay annual fees. According to the state’s anti-drug policy coordinator Jindřich Vobořil and the Pirate Party, which is part of the current coalition, the proposal could earn the government around CZK 2 billion per year.

Do you agree with the government's plans to regulate the recreational cannabis market?

Yes, legalization is the way forward 92 %
Things should stay the way they are now 3 %
The government should actually increase the punishments for smoking cannabis 5 %
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The regulation is still in its draft form and will be debated in parliament this month. If approved, it could be implemented as early as next year.

At present, the possession of small amounts of cannabis in Czechia is decriminalized, but smoking it recreationally is technically still illegal. Cannabis for medicinal use, often in the form of cannabidiol (CBD), has been legal and regulated since 2013.

The cannabis black market is growing across Europe. In the Czech Republic, we seem to have reached its ceiling, and I don't see many other options to prevent its functioning other than to take its demand and put it in the hands of legal sellers.

Anti-drug policy coordinator, Jindřich Vobořil

More money, greater control

Aside from generating income, Vobořil says that the aim of the strictly controlled market is to increase consumer protection while ensuring that the cannabis produced is safe. The government also wants better control of the quantity of cannabis on the market. 

The anti-drug coordinator claims that around 1 million people use illegal cannabis in various forms in the Czech Republic every year.

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FAST FACTS ON CANNABIS IN CZECHIA

  • In 2021, Czechia had the highest use of cannabis among young adults in the whole EU
  • About 20 percent of people under the age of 34 have recently used cannabis
  • Just under 10 percent of all adults in Czechia report regularly using marijuana
  • According to estimates, 46 tons of dried hemp are consumed annually in the Czech Republic
  • If the law is passed, a cannabis market with a volume of up to 150 tons per year would be established in Czechia

    Sources: European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addition, Czech Radio, Seznam Zprávy, Hospodářské noviny.

Fees for sales

The government would generate money under its new plans by imposing licensing fees and an excise tax similar to that on cigarettes. It would also make money through the legal export of cannabis to other European countries, where the drug is also legal. Growing hemp on larger plots of land would cost hundreds of thousands of crowns, and an independent shop that wants to sell cannabis would need to pay a once-yearly free, starting at about CZK 50,000.

Under the draft regulation, cannabis would only be available in specialized stores, rather than lie on supermarket shelves. Vobořil also says that the government is “working to ban the advertising of cannabis products within the market” and that each type of packaging would have no advertisements or images. 

Registration needed

Users looking to buy cannabis in shops would need to add their personal details to a special register. They would only be able to buy a limited amount of cannabis per month, in order to prevent them from potentially reselling the drug.

When attempting to purchase cannabis, vendors would need to access the register and check the amount that the user has already purchased. A limit of 150 grams of cannabis per month – or 5 grams per day – is currently being discussed. Switzerland and Barcelona have recently introduced similar registration-based systems.

No more black market?

According to Vobořil, a regulated market would be a better preventative tool, and a stronger weapon against fighting addiction, than prohibition. Critics argue that the proposed new system would not eliminate the black market, as legally obtained cannabis could be sold on to minors and those who have already reached their “purchase limit.” The health risks associated with cannabis would also endanger more people.

A 2022 survey found that three in four Czechs spoke positively of plans for the regulated sales of cannabis. The passage of this regulation would bring billions to the government and make the drug more accessible – it is now up to the ruling coalition to decide which is the best course of action.

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