The availability of drugs in European Union countries remains high, and in some cases is higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to this year’s report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
In the Czech Republic, 23 percent of people between 15 and 34 have tried marihuana at least once. Compared to the other 24 states in the European Union, the Czech Republic ranks first and is on par with the United States.
The EMCDDA estimates that around 30% of EU citizens aged 15 to 64 have tried at least one banned substance in their lifetime. The most commonly used substance is cannabis, which 79 million people have tried at least once in their lifetime. In the past year, 22 million people (7% of the EU population) have used cannabis at least once. Among young people aged 15 to 34, the figure was 15.5%.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are also very popular among young people in the Czech Republic. Around 5% of people aged 15 to 34 have used them at least once in the past year.
The EU average is below 1%. The Czech Republic also has the highest rate of at-risk methamphetamine (crystal meth) users – 4.84 per 1,000 inhabitants.
Could the Czech Republic be Europe’s Most Progressive Medical Cannabis Market?
Medical cannabis sales in the Czech Republic increased year-on-year by 63% in 2021. And the space is expected to show potential for further growth in the next 12 months on the back of a recent law change that could see prices driven down for medical cannabis as the country’s legal market opens up to growers.
Official figures reveal that a total of 109.4kg of medical cannabis was released to Czech patients last year compared to 66.9kg in 2020, as the country now adopts one of the most broadminded attitudes in Europe towards cannabis legalisation. On average, 9.1kg of medical cannabis was distributed every month in Czechia last year, compared to an average of just 5.6kg in the same time frame in 2020.
The State Agency for Medical Cannabis (SAKL) statistics also reveal that the last three months of 2021 saw the most prescriptions issued, with 5,500 dispensed between October and the end of December. The total for the year was 19,441 – a 37% rise on 2020 – with November the busiest month with 1,976 prescriptions handed out by doctors.
Overall, more than 1,000 prescriptions were issued every month – the first time this has happened since medical cannabis was legalised in Czech Republic in 2013.
Patients & Prescriptions
The overwhelming majority of medical cannabis prescribed to patients – 80% – was to help alleviate chronic pain, followed by multiple sclerosis at 12%. Parkinson’s disease was also in the top three.
Curiously, according to official data from 2020, 61.8% of Czechia’s medical cannabis patients are female, with just 38.2% men. This demographic data is different to most other countries in Europe, with most having a majority-male patient population for medical cannabis. The same report noted that 43.3% of all patients are aged 56-75, followed by 19.84% in the 45-55 age group, and 17.3% between 76-85.
The steady increase in the issuing of prescriptions, and both patient and doctor numbers since 2019, can be attributed to the fact that since the beginning of 2020, 90% of the price of medical cannabis has been covered by health insurance up to a limit of 30g per month.
The Czech government has also set a price cap of €6.41 per gram, making the nation one of the most affordable markets in Europe for medical cannabis.