The Czech Republic this week awarded its first license for the wholesale import of cannabis but it may do little to help the country’s foundering medical marijuana initiative get off the ground half-a-year after such use was made legal.
The country’s Ministry of Health said Tuesday it had issued a license to the Czech agriculture equipment company Elkoplast Slusovice s.r.o. to import cannabis for pharmaceutical resale to patients who have a doctor’s prescription for the drug.
The company said it would import three kilograms of cannabis initially but it remains uncertain when it can launch sales to pharmacies.
In the last 16 years cannabis has returned to global pharmacology as an effective palliative treatment for pain, an appetite stimulant to prevent wasting syndrome, as a substitute for hard drugs in detox situations or as a relaxant used to treat spasticity and seizures, among common uses.
While medical use of cannabis became legal in April, a lack of willing suppliers and sellers has prevented sales getting underway since. That despite patients and doctors clamoring for the medicine and its medical use having won strong public and political backing.
“The system isn’t working at all yet. Other than this supplier, there is no demand because of administrative obstacles by the Ministry of Health,” said Dr. Tomas Zabransky, an epidemiologist who advises the European Union, the United Nations and several Czech governments on drug policy.
Only imported cannabis is currently legal–it can come from either the Netherlands or Israel–and electronic prescriptions are required for the drug, a major hurdle as no doctors nor pharmacies have installed the costly technology.
By Sean Carney
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