Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Czech Republic Decriminalizes Cultivation Of Marijuana Starting Jan. 1

By Steve Elliott in Toke of the Town

Photo: Psychonaught
Five of these? Yes, please. (Super Silver Haze sativa/indica hybrid)

The government of the Czech Republic in eastern Europe will allow ordinary citizens to grow up to five marijuana plants starting Jan. 1, 2010.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Jan Fischer defined "personal use" amounts of cannabis and other drugs, clarifying the nation's new penal code that will decriminalize cultivation and possession of pot.

While marijuana will remain technically illegal, possession will be punished only with fines comparable to those imposed for parking tickets, Sean Carney at the Wall Street Journal reports.

​What constituted "small amounts" for personal use was previously undefined. Police and the courts loosely interpreted the laws on a case by case basis, often resulting in home marijuana growers being jailed.

15 grams 12-08-09.jpg
Photo: Reality Catcher
This is what 15 grams of pot looks like. If you have this much or less, you won't have to Czech yourself, starting Jan. 1.
According to the Justice Ministry's additional proposed rules, which according to Czech newspaper České Noviny are not yet formally approved, the possession of up to 15 grams (just over half an ounce) of dried marijuana will no longer be a criminal offense. Individuals will be also allowed to possess up to five grams of hashish without being prosecuted.

If the government accepts the ministry's proposed rules in two weeks, those having more than 15 grams of marijuana or five grams of hash could still face up to one year in prison.

Also allowed under section of the new rules already approved will be cultivation of up to five coca plants and five mescaline cactus. Up to 40 psilocybin "magic" mushrooms may be kept at home, according to the approved rules.

Even harder drugs are included in the decrim plan. According to a section of the proposal not yet officially approved, up to two grams of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin will also be decriminalized. Possession of up to four Ecstasy tables won't be criminally punished.

Approval of a table specifying specific amounts of drugs is part of the country's new penal code, approved last year by both houses of Parliament and signed into law this year by President Vaclav Klaus.

Photo: Chmee2
Burning one down in the Czech Republic. Hempiest heads in Europe?
​Czechs are not only Europe's heaviest beer drinkers (320 pints per person per year), according to the Wall Street Journal; they may also be the continent's biggest potheads.

Almost one of four, 22 percent, of Czechs between 16 and 34 smoke marijuana at least once a year, according to a 2005 report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Although the medical marijuana issue is gaining prominence in Europe and worldwide, the Czech Republic still doesn't recognize medical use of the herb. However, a Czech non-profit group in September opened the nation's first marijuana dispensary in Prague, despite there being no medical marijuana laws on the books.

The grand opening of the dispensary was attended by Prague's mayor, Dr. Pavel Bern, who is also a physician and proponent of responsible marijuana use.

Some Czech courts have occasionally made exemptions to current law to allow for medical use and cultivation of cannabis, but without supporting legislation such rules remain in limbo.

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