The Czech Republic is planning to join Germany in a coordinated plan to bring legal adult-use cannabis sales to Central Europe.
Czech lawmakers are currently working to draft an adult-use legalization bill, which is expected to be introduced by next March. If approved, full legalization could take effect by January of 2024. But instead of going it on their own, Czech officials plan to closely coordinate their regulations and rollout dates with their neighbors in Germany, who are currently drawing up their own adult-use retail regulations.
Immediately after winning the general election last November, Germany's ruling coalition announced plans to fully legalize adult-use cannabis retail sales. This summer, officials met with peers from Malta, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands – three other European countries that have legalized or decriminalized weed in some form – to discuss the future of cannabis in Europe. This fall, the Czech Republic announced that it was ready to join the party.
In September, the Czech coalition government tasked drug commissioner Jindřich Vobořil with drafting a law to legalize adult-use cannabis sales. Last month, Vobořil announced that he had already reached out to Germany in an attempt to sync up the countries' legalization plans. "We are in contact with our German colleagues, and we have repeatedly confirmed that we want to coordinate by consulting each other on our proposals," he said in a social media post translated by Forbes.
Czechia's decision to legalize weed should come as no surprise, given its reputation as one of the most weed-friendly European nations. The country decriminalized minor cannabis possession and use back in 2010, legalized medical marijuana in 2013, and allows hemp producers to grow cannabis with up to 1% THC content. Around a third of Czech citizens say they have gotten stoned at some point in their lives, and there are an estimated 800,000 active pot smokers in the country today.
And although Czech officials want to sync up their weed regulations with Germany, their liberal attitude towards weed may convince them to take a more progressive approach than their neighbors. Vobořil said that he intends to legalize cannabis social clubs similar to the ones found in Spain, but Germany may not end up taking the same approach.
"My colleagues in Germany are talking about permitted quantities, and they don't have the cannabis clubs that we foresee,” Vobořil wrote, according to Forbes. “I certainly want to hold the cannabis clubs until my last breath. This model seems very useful to me, at least for the first few years."
Vobořil added that he hoped to legalize national cannabis trade with Germany, but German officials have proposed banning all cannabis imports and exports to better comply with EU law. The import ban has been widely criticized by German weed advocates, though, so it's possible that Czechia will help convince officials to do away with this restriction.
Czech officials are also skeptical of the THC caps and personal weight restrictions that Germany is considering. The initial draft of Germany's adult-use regulations would have capped all legal weed products at a maximum THC content of 15% and blocked adults aged 18 to 20 from buying weed with more than 10% THC. Fortunately, officials have already agreed that an overall THC potency cap is a terrible idea, but the cap for younger adults is still on the table.
But although Czechia may end up adopting more progressive cannabis regulations than its neighbor, Vobořil said that he plans to introduce regulations that would discourage people from actually smoking weed. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Vobořil said officials would "try to ensure that as little cannabis as possible is consumed through conventional smoking because that is most damaging to health." He did not elucidate on exactly how the government intends to discourage smoking, though.
Cover image via