Czech Republic Limits Patients’ Access to Medical Marijuana
On January 30, 2013, the Senate of the Czech Republic approved a bill by a vote of 67-2 to allow medical marijuana throughout the country. Although support for the bill was high, the law does little to support patients who need medical marijuana. That is the frustration of Zdenek Majzlik, a 67-year-old man who grows marijuana to treat his 46-year-old daughter’s multiple sclerosis. Majzlik was a strong supporter of the bill and fought for lawmakers to allow medical marijuana; but he is still fighting for safe access.
The bill established strict consumer regulations; no patient under 18 can use medical marijuana, heath insurance companies are banned from covering the cost of medical marijuana, and patients are limited to a little over one ounce per month. Furthermore, the bill currently prohibits growing marijuana in the Czech Republic and only allows four specific strains to be imported from the Netherlands. The result is an extremely limited market and high prices. The Czech National Drug Coordinator said that the situation is unacceptable, and the restrictions on obtaining medical marijuana are “unnecessarily limiting and discriminating.”
Now the government is taking another step against medical marijuana patients. While small independent growers like Majzlik used to be off the police radar, recently the police have raided about 100 stores suspected of selling supplies for growing marijuana. The sweep is in conjunction with investigating about 45 people suspected of illegal marijuana growing or distributing.
The frustrations faced by Mr. Majzlik are similar to the dilemma of many medical marijuana patients throughout the United States.
That I face five years in jail for trying to provide something the current medicine can’t do is insane. I don’t want to be a hero. I am breaking the law, and that’s a problem for me. I don’t think I’m a criminal.