Will the Czech Republic be the second EU country to legalize recreational cannabis?

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Currently, only one European country has legalized recreational cannabis. And despite popular belief, this is not the Netherlands, where the sale of cannabis is tolerated in licensed coffeeshops, but where the cultivation, distribution and possession of cannabis remain criminal offences. In December 2021, Malta became the first country in the EU to legalize cannabis for adults. And the Czech Republic could well be the second.

If the plan proposed by National Drugs Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil comes into force in 2024 as he hopes, the Czech Republic could become the second EU country to legalize the recreational use of cannabis and its sale, before Germany, which has still not announced its schedule. The Drug Enforcement Coordinator presented his plan to tackle addiction – which includes the proposal to legalize cannabis – at a press conference last week.

“Right now, there is a political consensus for me to create this proposal to regulate cannabis, a substance that is illegal at the moment. We want to regulate it with the help of the market and we believe that this regulation will be more effective than the current prohibition. »

Mr. Vobořil is one of the leading Czech experts on drug issues, with nearly twenty years of experience in the management and development of health and social service programs related to drug addiction. On the home page of his website, the first thing you find is a quote saying that studies show that a certain proportion of the population will eventually become addicted to an addictive substance at some point in their lives. , despite society’s best prevention efforts, and that the solution is not criminalization, but rather the “controlled availability of less risky substances”.

At the press conference, the Drug Enforcement Coordinator described the current legal status quo regarding cannabis as “one big social experiment that doesn’t work.” He believes that legalizing and regulating the sale of cannabis will be more effective in addressing the problem of addiction – and will also generate significant tax revenue.

The three-year plan presents proposals for the taxation not only of cannabis, but also of addictive substances that are already legal, including tobacco products.

“There are currently no excise duties on e-cigarettes and nicotine patches, so we would introduce a lower excise duty than we have on cigarettes. As for taxes on cigarettes, at the moment they are increasing every year, and I expect that we will agree to keep things that way. »

The Czech state could earn up to 15 billion crowns (€600 million) a year thanks to the new tax proposal, which also includes the fight against the black market in cigarettes, alcohol and gambling, as well as more efficient tax collection. Other proposals in the plan include increased spending on drug prevention and treatment, as well as the creation of a new drug addiction agency, which would be responsible for drug addiction measures and their funding.

The government of Petr Fiala announced in its policy statement in January this year that it wanted to tackle the problem of addiction on the basis of scientific evidence. It should receive Mr. Vobořil’s completed plan, with its implementation dates, by the end of the year. The country also calls on other European nations to do the same.

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