While the Czech Republic is moving towards cannabis decriminalization by legalizing its recreational use, EU national drug coordinators from the 27 Member States meet to discuss cannabis legalization.
In early September, representatives from 27 EU member states and independent experts, NGOs, and private sector representatives met in Prague for the annual National Drug Coordinators conference.
The country holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Czech Republic, organized the conference, which focused on cannabis policies, decriminalization, destigmatization, and harm reduction.
That’s a pivotal point for the Czech Republic that prepares legislation about legalizing and regulating the recreational use of cannabis, as for Europe that follows the Czech’s steps.
Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, CEO of Augur Associates, a cannabis consulting firm, reports that the BusinessCann event was ‘historical,’ underlining an essential debate between the member states on a European level.
The National Drugs Coordinators Conference
Czech Republic National Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil is preparing a draft law designed to allow the cultivation, sale, and purchase of cannabis for recreational use. Also, he organized the conference together with the Department of Drug Policy. The event hosted expert presentations from Malta, Portugal, Netherlands, and Germany. These countries are handling cannabis legalization differently, offering their ‘national perspective’ and contributing to the progress of the matter.
Boris Banas, the delegate from European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), and representatives from the cannabis consulting firm Augur Associates presented their opinions about the form of the European recreational cannabis industry.
Mr. Jeanroy cited the recent report of the Augur Associates company about the applicable models addressing the regulation of adult use, quoting: “Beyond being able to listen to lessons learned through testimonies from Thailand, California, and our report, I believe it was for several countries, the possibility to envision concrete steps in their respective reform processes. It was courageous of them to organize a high-level meeting, with representatives for drug policy from all the EU 27 member states, on such a topic, and to integrate non-governmental voices from the NGOs and the private sector.
Finally, the elephant in the room is being seriously discussed.” Michel Kazatchkin from the Global Commission on Drug Policy stated to the Czech News Agency that the Czech EU presidency signals the opening of the debate on a ‘political level’.
“We have been trying to do this for over a decade. There are many legal complications. But I believe there will be a shift in understanding in Europe and the world, and a regulated cannabis market will be in place”.Michel Kazatchkin
Czech Republic towards Legalization
Czechia moved towards significant adjustments for medical/pharmaceutical cannabislegalization on January 1rst, 2022, upgrading the prescription process and increasing access to the rapidly advancing market of medical cannabis. This decision derives from the 63% increase in the medical cannabis (CBD Cannabidiol) market during 2021, the 22,5% increase of patients, which numbered 4601 people in contrast with 434 patients in 2019.
Personal cannabiscultivation and possession, decriminalized in 2010, stuck the country to the fame of one of the most cannabis-friendly states in the region. Mr. Vobořil is pressing to widen even more the rules, preparing a draft law that will regulate the Czech cannabis market. He will submit it by the end of the year, hoping that the 2023 Presidency will examine it. According to iDnes.cz sources, the draft law already has the support of Prime Minister Petr Fiala, although nobody expects easy approval.
SPD and ANO party members oppose the bill pointing to the younger generations dangers, while the head of Czechia’s National Anti-Drug Headquarters reports that the regulation will not affect the use but the production and distribution.
Augur Associates Paper
Augur Associated published the company’s whitepaper in June, presented and discussed at the conference, aligned with Mr. Vobořil, who declares that prohibition is always an extreme effort without benefits. The paper underlines some harmful effects of cannabis legalization. But it is also concerned about the way towards legalization rather than questioning whether to legalize or not.
For example, there are already significant efforts for cannabis legalization in countries such as Uruguay, Canada, the USA, Spain, and the Netherlands. The paper also refers to the main strategic targets that the governments should follow to achieve progress on the issue. The critical points toward cannabis legalization include the following:
- Illicit market elimination. The protection of new users. The prevention of problematic use. Sustainable market assurance.
Mr. Jeanroy reported that this paper adds issues never discussed before. At least now, they are recognized, and they are better perceived. The hardest part of the report wasn’t the ‘social dimension’ enhancing the responsibility for marking a policy against the black market, rather than the release from the outdated reflexes caused by the prohibition.
“Arbitrary rules such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) or type of distribution outlets limitations, etc. Wanting to over-regulate because the stigma is still pregnant, such as pharmaceutical quality standards and other market barriers. These conditions are pretty preoccupying because they will not allow countries to achieve their objectives, notably drying up the illicit market”.
“Ultimately time is of the essence if we ought to develop a sustainable European industry. Global commerce is at the gates, and Europe will only survive by proposing high-quality products”.