CZECHS LEGALIZE CANNABIS
December 14, 2009
Beginning January 1, ordinary Czechs can grow up to five marijuana plants or have several marijuana cigarettes in their pockets without fear of criminal prosecution. Previously what constituted a small amount was not specified and the police and courts loosely interpreted the penal code case by case, often resulting in incarceration of home growers, says the Wall Street Journal.
The government's approval of a table specifying what amounts of drugs are permissible is a vital part of the country's new penal code that was last year approved by both houses of parliament and in January of this year was signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus. Without the just-approved table of amounts that will be used by Czech police, the January decriminalization of the drug would be difficult to judge by courts and investigators, says the Journal:
- The Cannabis plant still remains illegal, however, though from the new year possession of five or less plants is merely a misdemeanor, and fines for possession will be on par with penalties for parking violations.
- The Czech decision is in sync with the country's liberal, Dutch-like social attitudes and laissez-faire approach to civil liberties.
There is also an interesting lifestyle footnote: Czechs are Europe's biggest drinkers of hops-infused beer and are also the continent's leaders in smoking pot, says the Journal:
- Czechs consume 320 pints of the golden brew per person annually.
- Also 22 percent of Czechs between the age of 16 and 34 smoke cannabis at least once a year, according to a recent report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Czech decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis possession does not, however, provide greater clarity to the country's policy on medical marijuana, an issue which is gaining momentum both in Europe, North America and elsewhere around the globe. The murky state of medical marijuana in the Czech Republic is akin to the legal limbo of the plant's medicinal uses elsewhere in Europe, says the Journal.
Source: Sean Carney, "Czech Govt Allows 5 Cannabis Plants For Personal Use From 2010" Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2009.
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