The moment cannabis is legalized, business would be built. It would mean the development of another industry.
Miroslava Brůhová, junior associate at ARROWS ETL Global and expert in the field of technical cannabis and cannabis for medical use, talks in the interview about the current legal regulation of these types of cannabis in Czechia, the powers of the European Union in this issue and the benefits of legalization.
How exactly can we define technical cannabis and medical cannabis?
Technical cannabis is cannabis containing up to 1% THC (Note: Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance found in cannabis). Medicinal cannabis is that which is already above this level and, of course, is also used for medicinal purposes.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of technical cannabis?
It is a multifunctional material, most commonly known under CBD oils and dietary supplements. Here we are still talking only about the flower of the plant. As far as the stem is concerned, it can be used to make an incredible number of things. It's used in industry, in making ropes, textile fibre, it is mixed into plastics, people try to make the equivalent of plastic bottles out of it.
Technical cannabis is legal in our country. So everything you mentioned is allowed?
Exactly. That is the advantage of this cannabis being legalised, it brings huge benefits to society.
How is it in Czechia with the legalisation of cannabis for medical use, what stage are we at now?
Certain entities in our country can grow this cannabis. This is a great progress. At the same time, there are a lot of associations, political ambitions that are in favor of legalization. I think we are waiting for Germany, where it is expected that within two years they will legalese this type of cannabis on a larger scale. I think then this will happen in Czechia as well.
With regard to medicinal cannabis, how exactly can it be dispensed now? And what would it look like if it was legalized?
At the moment, it has to be prescribed by a doctor, so it is only dispensed by pharmacies. That is currently the only legal way to obtain cannabis with THC above 1%. If it was legalized, it would be a different process. It could be like in Amsterdam, where you buy it from specialized shops, maybe it could be a licensed trade, but then it depends on the legislation. Of course it would be much more accessible.
Can Czechia make a difference in this issue, since we will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from July?
Absolutely. There is a great opportunity to move the legalization process forward.
What are the powers of the European Union in the context of the legalization of medical cannabis?
With regard to medical cannabis, Czechia is currently developing implementing legislation. However, we have a notification obligation towards the EU. This means that our Ministry of Health prepares the regulation, but then it has to be sent to the EU authorities for approval so that it can be harmonized across the EU countries. The EU authorities can add conditions and we have to adapt the regulation accordingly.
What about technical cannabis, is the process the same there?
Yes, the restrictions apply to technical cannabis as well. We as a country have our national regulation, but the European area has a stricter one. This means that whereas technical cannabis is legal in our country, it is a problem to import it from a third country because it clashes with EU regulations. So we can grow technical cannabis here, but we cannot import it from a third country such as Switzerland. This requires a permit from the state authority, the SZIF, which only issues cannabis up to 0.3% THC.
You mentioned Germany as one of the countries where medical cannabis could soon be legalized. How are other European countries doing? Is medicinal cannabis already fully legal somewhere?
I would certainly mention Malta and Luxembourg. In these countries, it is now permitted to use cannabis for recreational purposes. It is not 100% legal, but the regime is very loose in those countries.
What do you think would be the impact of legalizing medical cannabis on society?
From a global perspective, I would definitely mention the financial impact. Cannabis is currently traded on the black market. The moment it would be legalized, it would build a business. It would mean the development of another industry and the state would make money from it. So it would be a benefit to the economy. It is not about selling marijuana, it is not about 'pot to smoke', there is research and development linked to the whole area.