Czech doctors, patients and scientists Tuesday launched a petition for the legal use of cannabis in treating sclerosis multiplex, the Parkinson disease, cancer and the AIDS in the Czech Republic whose legislation bans such practice.
The petitioners say the ban breaches people's free choice of treatment methods and want it to be lifted.
They give research results and practice in foreign countries as arguments in support of their demand.
"The petition promotes [cannabis 's] medical use. We don't seek its legalisation as a recreation drug," Tomas Zabransky, a doctor specialising in addictology and one of the petition organisers, told journalists.
Health Ministry spokesman Vlastimil Srsen told CTK that medicine Sativex, that contains cannabis extract, is available on the Czech market.
"Patients can buy it in pharmacies on prescription," Srsen said.
The medicine is used by patients with sclerosis multiplex, he said, adding that its further use must be subjected to a broad discussion.
Opponents of hemp use warn, citing surveys, that a half of Czechs aged between 15 and 34 have tried marijuana, a drug produced from a plant related to cannabis hemp. In the past year, about 15 percent of adults smoke marijuana.
According to the government's report from last year, the use of marijuana by young people in the Czech Republic is the most extensive out of European countries.
The Health Ministry reportedly reckons with extending the permitted use of technical hemp that is often grown in the Czech Republic and is used to make ointments and other healing cosmetic.
Pointing to public opinion polls, Zabransky said the use of cannabis for medical treatment is supported by 78 percent of Czechs.
It is necessary to solve the situation where tens of thousands of people use cannabis illegally for treatment. Either they grow cannabis, thus risking punishment, or they buy cannabis on the black market, Zabransky said.
The petitioners demand that Czech patients have the same rights as their counterparts in Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.
They say they are aware of the risks the recreation use of cannabis poses to healthy people. That is why the growing of cannabis for healing and research purposes should be strictly monitored, they say.
- Article Originally from The Prague Daily Monitor.