The Czech Republic legalized medical marijuana earlier this year. However, medical marijuana is still very hard to find. It saddens me to hear stories about patients who are caught up in a political battle, all the while suffering due to lack of access to the medicine they should legally be able to obtain. It's a common story in parts of the United States, and I know people here feel for the patients in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic situation is very similar to states like New Jersey, where I get e-mails all the time from patients asking when they should expect things to change. Sadly, I don't see it happening, at least not legally. With so few safe access points, and no right to home cultivation, patients are stuck in a tough situation. It sounds like the problems in New Jersey are the same thing people are experiencing in the Czech Republic.
Patients have no choice but to purchase marijuana from the unregulated black market, which comes with a host of potential issues. Patients could get bad meds that have who knows how many foreign pesticides sprayed on them. Patients could potentially get robbed by a thug drug dealer, or at the least ripped off. In a lot of cases, the potential for harm is enough to turn off patients that aren't comfortable purchasing from the black market. Below are excerpts about the Czech Republic situation, courtesy of the Washington Post:
"There's a very consistent effort from the Ministry of Health not to make the law really enforced," said Dr. Tomas Zabransky, a U.N and EU adviser on drug issues. The ministry denies deliberately blocking access to medical marijuana, but few question that its policies have raised steep barriers for patients to access pot legally.
So far, two licenses have been issued allowing import and distribution of marijuana, and Salamunova said the cannabis approved under those licenses may hit pharmacies in December. But the pharmacies won't be able to legally sell it until an electronic registry is set up to record prescriptions, sales and patient information --- and it's not clear when it will be up and running.
Even that route may be getting harder: The government last week launched a harsh crackdown on stores suspected of supplying material for growing marijuana, carrying out about 100 raids and putting dozens of people under investigation.
Political foot dragging should not be tolerate, whether it's in the Czech Republic, New Jersey, or anywhere. Protest these practices, contact your politicians and the local media, and don't give up until true safe access is achieved.