In 2020, medical cannabis patients in the Czech Republic used four times as much medical pot than they did in 2019, according to data recently released by the country's drug policy and health departments.
The Czech Republic legalized medical marijuana back in 2013, but the early days of the program were plagued by supply issues, and few doctors were initially willing to supply this medication. Even by the end of 2019, only 78 doctors had successfully registered to prescribe medical cannabis, and only 434 patients received pot prescriptions that year.
Things began to look greener for the Czech medical marijuana program in 2020. By the end of last December, the total number of prescribing doctors grew to 123, and the total number of patients to 1,103 – two and a half times more patients than in the previous year. Doctors issued a total of 14,167 weed prescriptions in 2020, about 1,181 a month – up significantly from the 4,145 total prescriptions authorized in 2019.
The Czech government has been working to expand access to its medical marijuana program during the past several years. Unlike the UK and the US, where medical cannabis patients have to bear the cost of medical pot on their own, the Czech Republic's public health program covers 90 percent of medical marijuana costs, up to a limit of 30 grams a month. Officials have also capped medical pot prices at €6.41 per gram – less than 8 US dollars a gram.
Thanks to these expansions, doctors were able to prescribe 66.8 kilograms (over 147 pounds) of weed last year, four times more than the 17kg (37.5 pounds) prescribed in 2019. Licensed Czech doctors can prescribe weed to treat chronic pain, psoriasis, cachexia, Tourette’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders, but over 82 percent of all the medical pot sold in 2020 was dispensed to patients suffering from pain issues.
The country also took strides to expand access to CBD products last year. Low-THC CBD products have been legal since 2015, but local hemp businesses began installing CBD vending machines across the country last summer, offering three grams of hemp flower for a little over $30 US.
Adult-use weed remains illegal in the Czech Republic, but the country at least decriminalized pot and other drugs in 2010. Anyone busted with up to 15 grams of non-medical flower or 5 grams of hash can be hit with a fine of about $650 US instead of being locked away behind bars. Some politicians, including the opposition Pirate Party, are advocating for full adult-use legalization, though, so the country still has a shot at advancing more robust cannabis reform.