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The Czech is in the Post: New Hemp Regulations Expected to Allow 1% THC; Could be an African Export Opportunity

Czech Your Mate

Czechoslovakia may hold the answer to Africa’s hemp problems. Czech lawmakers are seeking to set THC limits for industrial hemp at 1%, not the current 0,3% as is the standard in Europe. This has raised concerns in the Senate as it may contravene international drug laws, but it is expected that President Miloš Zeman will approve amendments to take effect from 1 January 2022.

This is interesting from an African perspective as initial studies show that hemp grown south of the equator naturally gravitates towards THC levels of over the 0,3% US/European standard. As the regulatory framework stands right now, African countries would not be able to build a hemp industry based on exports as Africa’s THC levels are too high. However, if Czech law allows for a 1% THC level in hemp, then that country is a possible platform into Europe for southern African hemp producers. Malawi has legislated the 1% limit; other African countries have set THC levels at 0,3% which several industry commentators have said is unrealistic.

The Czech Lower House is pushing for reform aimed at improving the availability of medical marijuana and enabling electronic prescriptions as well as triple the THC content in hemp. The lower house rejected a Senate proposal to maintain the current level of THC in the definition of industrial hemp and rejected the Senate’s tougher version of certification requirements.

According to some senators, increasing the THC content would contravene the international drug convention and would also affect criminal law concerning possession of a classified substance. For this reason, the Senate wanted to maintain the THC content limit for technical hemp to 0.3 percent. However, deputies in the lower house disagreed with the Senate.


Pirate Party pushing for pragmatism

The Czech Pirate party was one of the main supporters of the amendment in the lower house.

“This is a package of pragmatic measures, free from dogmatism and stereotyping, which are unfortunately still fundamental obstacles for Czech policy in the field of addictive behavior,” Pirate Deputy Tomáš Vymazal, who supported the proposal, stated on the party website.

He said that growers will not have to worry about criminalization due to nice weather and other growing conditions, as the THC level in the final product cannot be predicted in advance.

“Farmers growing varieties of industrial hemp from the common European catalog will not have to prove the THC content of hemp plants – they will only submit a certificate of origin,” Pirate Deputy Tomáš Vymazal stated on the party website.

The daft of the amendment sent to the president also states that hemp extracts and tinctures containing up to 1 percent THC will not be regarded as an addictive substance.

“All cannabis extracts that have a THC content of up to 1 percent by weight and which at the same time do not have narcotic effects will be completely exempted from the substance abuse regime,” Vymazal stated.

“This means that, for example, an ointment made from a non-narcotic variety of cannabis will no longer be an addictive substance, although it contains THC and although the original cannabis plant may have exceeded 1 percent THC. Due to the dilution of the active substances during the production of the ointment, an extract is created, which will not be an addictive substance in the sense of the law,” he added.


Czechs and balances

The main change in the amendment is that private entities will be able to grow cannabis plants for medicinal use, produce medicinal substances from them, and distribute them under the same conditions as any other controlled substance.

Medicinal cannabis is used, for example, for chronic pain for that other medicines cannot help. It is prescribed by specialized doctors for people with multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS.

The Health Ministry previously said it hopes this change will increase competition and reduce the price of medicinal products containing cannabis, which are 90 percent covered by public health insurance. Currently, the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) buys the needed volume of cannabis from a selected supplier on the basis of a tender.

Vymazal said that due to more suppliers, a wider range of medical cannabis, with different dosage levels, would become available for patients.

The Senate also unsuccessfully pushed for medical cannabis growers to be required to have a certificate of good manufacturing practice for medicinal substances under the Medicines Act, which is issued by SÚKL. Under the lower house version, a declaration of compliance with the conditions of good cultivation practice would be sufficient.

“Due to financially and administratively more accessible licenses, even normal entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to participate in the production of cannabis for medical use,” Vymazal said.

The amendment also gives SÚKL the right to block websites offering illegal and counterfeit medicines.

The use of medical cannabis has been on the rise. According to a report from January, In 2020, patients were given a total of 66.8 kilograms of medical marijuana, while in 2019 the figure was 17 kilograms.

Czech law has allowed prescribing medical cannabis since 2013. At first there was no legal supplier, so it did not become available until two years later. Initially, it was only available from abroad, and according to patients it was too expensive.

One Response

  1. The Czech and Swiss are thinking about it correctly at 1% the limits of 0.2/0.3% are extremely low in light of naturally occurring THCA levels in hemp plants.

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