Between January and November 2021, more than 99 kg of medical cannabis were prescribed in the Czech Republic, which accounted for about 4,370 patients. This data represents a 100-fold increase in prescriptions compared to 2015, when the use of medical cannabis was introduced. This translates into a 150-fold increase in the number of patients.
Since 1 January, doctors in the Czech Republic have been prescribing medical cannabis through electronic prescriptions, thus eliminating the special paper prescription method that had been used since its legalisation in 2015.
These prescriptions are prescribed for patients with chronic pain resistant to other drugs, for patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer or AIDS, 90% of which is covered by public health insurance.
According to the new law, cannabis may also be cultivated for medical purposes by private individuals. The Ministry of Health hopes that this will increase competition and reduce the price of medical preparations containing this substance.
Until now, the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL), which runs the National Agency for Medicinal Cannabis, bought the product from a selected supplier based on a public procurement procedure.
The amended laws redefine that cannabis contains up to 1% THC, approximately three times more than before. Thus, cannabis extracts or tinctures with less than this percentage will not be considered addictive substances.
The Chamber of Deputies approved this provision despite opposition from the Senate and the Minister of Health who warned that increasing the permitted THC content would be at odds with the international anti-drugs convention and would affect the criminal law’s definition of the line between a misdemeanour and a felony.
The reform established in the law also empowers SÚKL to block websites that offer illegal or fake drugs.
What do the numbers say about the development of medical cannabis?
According to the 2020 statistics, medical cannabis was most frequently prescribed by pain specialists, neurologists, rheumatologists, oncologists and orthopaedic surgeons, as well as by physicians treating palliative patients. Most of these patients used cannabis in pill form and a small number in the form of plant material or tea. About 70% of the patients’ conditions improved after treatment.
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