Photo from official Jindřich Vobořil website: https://jindrichvoboril.cz/profil/
The government’s anti-drug coordinator, Jindřich Vobořil, characterised the existing cannabis policy as the worst it could be in an interview with Czech journal Právo. He talked about other substances like kratom and CBD as well as the proposed regulation of cannabis.
Czech discussion about cannabis regulations
Jindřich Vobořil was asked about the discussion with the five-party coalition’s leaders regarding his proposed cannabis regulation. He responded that it went well, although having a few frustrating moments. The Christian Democrats were doubtful, but once he provided a summary of the 40-page draft law, all parties declared their support. There are three methods of securing restricted access to cannabis included in the proposed rule, according to Vobořil. These are home cultivation, participation in cannabis clubs, and legal production and sale. The proposed law addresses a number of topics, including licensing procedures, taxation, and content regulation. The coalition argued that another institution should be in charge of regulation rather than a separate administrative office and rejected the concept of creating an agency to regulate the cannabis industry.
Registry – of whom and by whom?
Regarding the registration, Vobořil explained that it would primarily apply to individuals buying cannabis. There are strict limits on the amount per month and per week. It is not applicable to any other commodities except certain types of medicines. The goal is to have verifiably limited quantities available at dispensaries. Also self-cultivators would have an obligation to report their activities but not through a conventional registration process. There is a discussion about whether a state system, similar to the gambling industry, or a non-state system, such as those used in healthcare, should manage the process. The costs, both in terms of personnel and finances, would be borne by the sellers.
However specialists also discussed whether a registration process for cannabis buyers was even necessary. Some coalition participants protested against adding further demands on the state government. Vobořil thinks both ideas should be taken into consideration in future cannabis regulation. They also disagreed on whether cannabis should be offered in pharmacies or specialty shops.
When asked who would be in charge of the market in the absence of a specific agency, Vobořil responded that it would probably be divided among existing institutions. Different organisations would be in charge of quality assurance, tax administration, and fee collection. Vobořil noted the potential for a department of anti-drug policy at the Office of the Government that would govern drugs in a way similar to Department 34 at the Ministry of Finance.
Can the Czech Republic continue with one voice?
Vobořil stated that after the cannabis legislative framework is created, he plans to talk about the proposal with the opposition. He underlined the need for a non-political response to the problem, free of any ideological categorization. According to him, all should take a similar stance and undertake dialogues with everyone involved to explain why the new legislation is a better and more efficient alternative to the existing system.
Vobořil acknowledged the party’s worries, but felt they came from anxiety rather than rationality. Mark Výborný, a candidate from the Christian Democratic Party for the position of Minister of Agriculture, argued that deregulating the cannabis market would significantly burden the state budget. He mentioned that the Czech Republic will not be able to bear the costs of prevention programs. However, according to Vobořil, the proposed regulation will actually result in significant cost relief rather than an increase. No professional assessments or worst-case scenarios claim that healthcare prices could rise. Only a small minority of people, according to Vobořil, have serious cannabis addiction and seek treatment. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling are the three biggest issues. Even if the number of cannabis users tripled, the percentage would still be very small.
In addition, Vobořil highlighted that regulation might result in quality assurance and uniform manufacture, guaranteeing that consumers can obtain safer goods. Moreover regulations can bring money that could then be used for education, public health efforts, and addiction treatment programs for more serious addiction issues. Vobořil’s thinking, in its conclusion, indicates that legalising cannabis would have a number of advantages. His viewpoint emphasises these benefits, even whilst the discussion over cannabis legalisation and regulation is still ongoing.