In the Czech Republic, cannabis is illegal for recreational use, although personal possession is decriminalized. Medical cannabis, meanwhile, has been legalized in 2013.
Medical cannabis legislation
Medical cannabis is legal and regulated in the country. It is legally available in pharmacies for people with specific medical conditions as long they have a prescription from a specialist. The law allows for 180 grams of dry matter each month.
Patients can obtain a medical marijuana prescription through a special electronic prescription system. They have to be diagnosed with a qualified illness, such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
However, the law did not establish regulations for domestic cultivation, resulting to a lack of suppliers and a need for them to import cannabis from other countries like the Netherlands. Because of this, medical cannabis is also very expensive and unaffordable for a lot of patients. Moreover, because of the lack of local supply, many pharmacies do not have medical cannabis readily available for those who really need it.
Patients are not permitted by law to grow their own cannabis plant. Also, health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.
In 2010, the country implemented a set of progressive laws that decriminalized the use and possession of small quantities of cannabis. Specifically, the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for personal use and the cultivation of up to five cannabis plants have each been allowed. They are merely classed as a misdemeanor. On conviction, a CZK15,000-fine is applicable, although these fines are usually much lower than that.
The possession of larger amounts of cannabis, or more than 15 grams of the substance, can lead to a one-year custodial sentence.
Sale and cultivation of cannabis
The sale of recreational cannabis is considered to be a major crime and comes with a jail term of one to five years. This can be extended to 18 years in case of aggravating circumstances.
However, the sale of small quantities of cannabis is generally tolerated or ignored to some extent. In fact, in Prague and other major cities, there are shops and bars that supply small amounts of marijuana under-the-table to their patrons.
The cultivation of more than five cannabis plants is also a criminal offense. It is also already considered production. Offenders are thus subject to the same penalties imposed for distribution offenses.
Illegal gang-related cultivation on the rise
Despite it being illegal, the cultivation of marijuana is widespread in the country. And even if small domestic growers exceed the five-plant legal limit, most of them, in practice, face very low risks of prosecution as long as there are no aggravating circumstances present.
In 2012, however, problems related to a rise in large-scale cannabis grow-rooms came to the surface, and Czech authorities were also having problems controlling these. Most of these operations are carried out close to the German border by Vietnamese gangs.
These large-scale, gang-related intensive cannabis cultivation is closely associated with products that are of poor-quality and that often contain unhealthy levels of fertilizer residue and mold.
As a response, the authorities clamped down the sale of cannabis cultivation needs and equipment. This drew criticism but show owners were forced to comply.
Czechs are among Europe’s top cannabis users
The 2014 European Drug Report said that the Czechs are among the leading cannabis users in Europe. According to the 2014 EDR, the Czech Republic had a 4.4 per cent previous-month marijuana use prevalence and ranked just after France and Spain, with 9.8 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.
The country also ranks high in terms of previous-month marijuana use prevalence among juveniles (15–16 years old), with 15 per cent.
These high numbers explain the current Czech Action Plan’s emphasis on lowering excessive cannabis (and alcohol) consumption by young people.