The People’s Party has expressed apprehension regarding the new cannabis regulation that aims to decriminalize users and permit the sale of cannabis in licensed shops or designated cannabis clubs. They are the sole party within the coalition that disagrees with the proposal put forth by Jindřich Voboril, the national anti-drug coordinator (ODS). The People’s Party only supports the decriminalization of self-growing cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Recently, Voboril engaged in discussions about the new regulation with Marian Jurečka, the chairman of the People’s Party, Marek Výborný, the Agriculture Minister (KDU-ČSL), and Jan Bartosek, the deputy chairman of the People’s Party and an expert in drug policy.
Jan Bartošek expressed his concerns, stating, “The Czech Republic has long struggled to implement prevention and treatment with sufficient financial security and capacity. With approximately 1.2 million people in the Czech Republic at risk of alcohol abuse and 900,000 people grappling with other addictions, it seems risky to me to introduce another addictive substance by opening Pandora’s box.”
Bartošek emphasized the need to address the capacity for juvenile detoxification before lowering the threshold for marijuana availability. He added, “If access to marijuana becomes easier, it will naturally increase the demands on capacity and staffing.”
However, Voboril dismissed the fears of an increase in cannabis addiction, claiming that only a small percentage of seriously addicted individuals seek treatment in the Czech Republic. He argued that even if the numbers tripled, it would still only represent a tiny percentage, pointing out that regulated situations in other countries have shown improvements.
While Voboril and the People’s Party agree on the decriminalization of self-growing cannabis for medicinal purposes, they acknowledge that certain individuals, such as wheelchair users or some seniors, may face obstacles in cultivating their own cannabis. Voboril highlighted the importance of finding alternative ways to supply cannabis to those who cannot engage in self-growing due to mobility or other constraints.
Bartosek clarified that most marijuana self-growers typically face misdemeanor proceedings rather than criminal charges. He stated, “It doesn’t make sense to severely punish someone who possesses marijuana for personal consumption. However, we do not support the establishment of retail stores, cannabis clubs, and similar ventures.”
Voboril clarified that he is not advocating for complete deregulation but instead proposes a non-prohibitionist model that avoids lengthy prison sentences. He plans to organize a seminar for People’s Party MPs, in coordination with the new party leader, Aleš Dufek, to address the issue.
The anti-drug coordinator, Voboril, mentioned that other government parties consider the new cannabis regulation a necessary step. He suggested reaching a compromise or allowing MPs to have a free vote on the matter.
However, Bartošek expressed doubts about finding common ground and raised concerns over the absence of addictive safeguards, similar to those employed in gambling, which exclude addicts from participating.
“Public health and the eradication of socially detrimental phenomena will always be the primary argument for me and the People’s Party. Until these fundamental questions, including prevention measures, are adequately addressed, I see limited possibilities for progress,” Bartošek concluded.