The Czech Republic has put forward a draft bill for a regulated cannabis market that would allow individuals to buy up to 5 grams of cannabis per day for recreational purposes. Under the plans, people who wish to use cannabis recreationally would need to register in a database, while growers and sellers would have to pay annual fees.
The proposed legal cannabis market could bring in around CZK 2 billion per year, according to anti-drug policy coordinator Jindřich Vobořil. The proposal is still in its draft form, but it is set to be debated in parliament this month, with implementation potentially starting next year.
The possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalised in Czechia since 1 January 2010, but smoking it for recreational purposes remains technically illegal. However, cannabis has been legal and regulated for medicinal use in the country since 2013.
Vobořil argues that the main aim of the new regulation is to increase consumer protection and ensure that the cannabis produced is safe. The government also wants better control of the quantity of cannabis on the market. It is estimated that around 1 million people use illegal cannabis in some form in the Czech Republic each year.
“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.” Vobořil said.
If the regulation passes, cannabis would be sold only in specialised stores. Packaging would bear no advertisements or images, and users would have to register their details in a special database. They would also only be able to purchase a limited quantity of cannabis per month to prevent potential resale.
Opponents of the proposed regulation argue that it would not eliminate the black market, as legally obtained cannabis could still be sold on to minors or those who have exceeded their purchase limit. Additionally, they argue that the health risks associated with cannabis could put more people in danger.
However, a 2022 survey found that three in four Czechs were in favour of regulating cannabis sales. The bill would bring in significant revenue for the government, but it remains to be seen whether the ruling coalition will choose to support its implementation.