Cannabis prescriptions have more than doubled over the last six months, although the overall number of patients remains lower than in comparable markets like Germany or Poland.
According to a new report from Prohibition Partners, the number of medicinal cannabis patients in the Czech Republic has more than doubled over the last six months, while the sale of dried flower has tripled, following the introduction of a new government reimbursement program.
This is a significant turnaround, as the Czech Republic has been riddled with supply issues and a lack of authorised retailers for years, despite being one of the first European nations to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis in 2013.
Though the latest figures show strong growth in the country, the overall penetration of the product is still very limited within the country. To put it in context, the state of Michigan has a similar population as the Czech Republic, and has 250,000 patients enrolled in its medical cannabis scheme. Germany, a country with a population 8 times larger, consumed over 300 times the 17kg consumed in the Czech Republic in 2019. Prohibition Partners Researcher, Arnau Valdovinos Agustí
Although it is not currently known how many patients are
currently prescribed cannabis in the Czech Republic, June 2020 was the first
month where more than 1,000 individual prescriptions were recorded, while more
than 26.8kg of flower were dispensed during the first half of this year.
Several key changes to the Czech medicinal cannabis program also recently took place, which many believe will promote significant patient growth.
Chief among these are the range of new measures being taken by the Czech government to improve patient accessibility, which includes financial reimbursement under the country's public health insurance for up to 90% of the medicine costs, with a limit of 30 grams per month.
The government has also set a price cap at €6.41 per gram, although experts say affordability is not the biggest barrier prevent further patient access, as the Czech Republic currently has some of the most affordable medicinal cannabis prices in Europe.
Instead, the issue is that the Czech Republic has a lack of authorised prescribers who are capable of dispensing the drug, due to the long-winded and complicated licensing process.
Currently, there are only 162 prescribers in the country who are medically licensed to prescribe cannabis, while jurisdictions like Germany and Poland allow most doctors to provide prescriptions at their discretion.
Another key problem that has limited the industry's growth is the small amount of local cultivators and producers. In fact, the only licenses allowing domestic cultivation and export were tendered by the State Agency for Cannabis for Medical Use (SAKL) to the waste disposal company Elkoplast, effectively giving it a monopoly in the Czech Republic.
Thankfully the government has announced plans to allow for multiple cultivation and export licenses from 2021 onwards.
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