Rise of Legal Medical Cannabis Cultivation in the Czech Republic

The cultivation and sale of medicinal cannabis, in compliance with strict regulations, is now a legal activity in the Czech Republic. Despite this, the accessibility of the substance for patients remains limited. This is changing gradually as the usage of prescribed medical cannabis is on the rise.

Recently established in Nelahozeves, a commune in the Melnik district, a cannabis farm is capable of producing up to a ton of dried medicinal cannabis per year. The majority of the yield, with a very high content of the active ingredient THC, is exported, with only a tiny portion finding its way into the local market and healthcare system.

The dried product or extract from it is used to alleviate pain in the final stages of cancer or to reduce anxiety or symptoms of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. For instance, last year, doctors in the Czech Republic prescribed approximately 200 kg of dried cannabis. By comparison, neighboring Germany used many times that amount, about 16 tons, according to former MP and chairman of the Safe Cannabis Association, Tomáš Vymazal.

The local produce is primarily targeted at the German and Polish markets. “We are gradually trying to establish ourselves in other European countries and are waiting for legislation to allow products to be distributed to pharmacies,” said Aleš Hrabák, one of the founders of the cannabis farm. His motivation to step into this industry was also influenced by personal experience, as his family has been dealing with multiple sclerosis for three generations, a condition where cannabis has the potential to help.

Cultivation in Nelahozeves takes place in almost laboratory conditions. In several brightly lit rooms, plants are at various stages of growth, from tiny spreading seedlings through growing to those ready for harvest. The farm can produce 800 to 1,000 kilograms of dried product per year, according to the technical director, Martin Vaněk.

Legal cultivation of medicinal cannabis in the Czech Republic is slowly gaining ground. To further its reach, it must compete with the pharmaceutical giants producing other opiates and drugs. However, as the awareness and acceptability of medicinal cannabis continue to grow, the industry is set to flourish, benefiting patients and the economy alike.