Klaus signs bill enabling marijuana use for medical purposes

Prague, February 18 (AZERTAC). President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus has signed a bill enabling the use of marijuana for medical purposes, namely for the mitigation of some serious diseases´ symptoms, into law, Presidential Office spokesman Radim Ochvat has told CTK.

Under the bill, marijuana will be legally available only on an e-prescription issued by a medical doctor still this year.

Patients will have to buy marijuana in pharmacies only.

According to the law authors, a monthly therapy would cost up to 1500 crowns.

However, critics of the legislation point out that the price might amount to 10,000 crowns, while marijuana could still be bought illegally for a much lower price.

Health insurers have so far refused to cover the marijuana treatment from public health insurance.

Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) says health insurance companies cannot contribute to it since marijuana is qualified only as a supportive medical product under the law.

Marijuana can be used, for example, to mitigate the symptoms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, the Parkinson disease and atopic eczemas.

The drug designed for medical purposes will be imported first.

The State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) will supervise its import and distribution. In a year it will start issuing licences to domestic hemp growers. The SUKL is also to set the area designated for hemp cultivation.

The institute is to issue maximally five-year licences, organise tenders for marijuana buyout from growers and check the observance of the marijuana prescription system.

One of the licence conditions is that the price of domestic hemp must be lower than of imported products.

The law does not legalise hemp growing for medical purposes at home, which marijuana supporters have required.

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