Photo: Freepik

Czech Government Approves Anti-Addiction Strategy, Including Regulated Cannabis Market

The government intends to establish a strictly regulated legal cannabis market. Photo credit: Freepik. 

Prague, April 6 (CTK) – The Czech cabinet has approved an anti-addiction strategy until 2025, which includes the introduction of a strictly regulated cannabis market, the form of which will be drafted by an expert working group, PM Petr Fiala told a press conference after yesterday’s cabinet meeting.

National drug policy coordinator Jindrich Voboril previously said that the plan would outline five priorities. One of them will be the controlled cannabis market. Another is the improved collection of taxes and a definition of tax policy on addictive substances, which “is something new in our action plans,” Voboril told CTK last October. He added that a new tax on addictive substances combined with more effective tax collection could bring in up to CZK 15 billion a year for the state budget.

The other three priorities are prevention and treatment, the promotion of effective measures at the EU level, and preparation for the possible impacts of the refugee wave, he said.

Fiala said the ambition of the newly approved action plan is to revise the regulatory model for addictive substances and the gambling market to reflect their harmfulness.

“The action plan includes the preparation of a proposal for a strictly regulated cannabis market in the Czech Republic,” Fiala said.

He said the action plan outlines a balanced approach to drug policy and reflects international experience.

The measures within it aim to prevent risks and restrict access to addictive substances for children and young people under 18, he said.

Voboril was originally expected to submit the draft plan by the end of 2022, but he received about 100 comments from institutions including the Ministries of Health and Finance, which caused a delay in the procedure. The final wording of the action plan approved by the cabinet yesterday is not clear.

The originally proposed measures included an increase in spending on prevention and treatment to about CZK 1 billion, from the current CZK 300 million.

A new agency for prevention and treatment is to be established with the operational cost of CZK 25 million. The network of addiction services is to be extended and more money will be allocated to programs for alcohol addiction, substitution treatment, research, and prevention campaigns.

The state may bring in up to CZK 4 billion from the sales of cannabis products and licences. The taxation of nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes is to be lower than on regular cigarettes, and could bring up to CZK 1 billion to the state budget a year.

Furthermore, the state could get CZK 7 billion by bringing the tax on heated tobacco products closer to that on smoking tobacco.

The suppression of the cigarette and alcohol black market, together with more effective collection of taxes, would add CZK 2 billion to the state budget, and the suppression of the illegal gambling market another CZK 1 billion, Voboril said when previously presenting his plan.

According to the draft strategy document, the Czech Republic currently collects around CZK 60 billion in excise taxes on tobacco products and CZK 13 billion from alcohol tax. Taxes on gambling raise CZK 5.1 billion for the state budget, and CZK 4.9 billion for municipal budgets.

On the other hand, the costs to society of addiction due to health and other impacts total around CZK 150-180 billion a year, as well as many untimely deaths.

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