Since 2013, Czech patients suffering from various diseases have been theoretically eligible to obtain and use legal medical cannabis from pharmacies under prescription of a doctor. In reality, however, they have to break the law in order to improve the quality of their life or – in some cases – even save it. Now, for the first time in modern history, they are taking their protest right to the politicians – calling for a peaceful demonstration in front of the Ministry of Health in Prague.
The situation in terms of the availability – or more precisely unavailability – of medical cannabis in the Czech Republic has become so critical that the Patient Association for Cannabis Treatment (KOPAC) has decided to organize a peaceful protest in the front of the Ministry of Health’s headquarters on Tuesday, October 3rd.
Change of Mind
The association comprises of patients, their caregivers, cannabis scientists and medical professionals who support the medical use of cannabis. Until recently, the official position of KOPAC has been that the standardized medical cannabis grown by state-licensed contractors should be the only available source of this “treatment” for registered patients. However, with no cannabis in pharmacies and prevailing obstacles (caused by the red tape surrounding the “area” and reluctance on the side of state officials in the State Institute for Drug Control), the association called finally for action on September 22nd, in an email inviting all patients to attend the above mentioned peaceful gathering. “As an association, we are trying to ensure there is economically accessible medical cannabis available – as the law states! If the government is not able to ensure this, it shouldn’t prohibit patients from treating themselves and growing their own cannabis!”
The gatherings of patients protesting in front of politicians and political institutions are an evergreen of the legalization fight in the U.S. or Canada, but are still a rare sight in Europe. This demonstration will actually be the first of its kind in Czech history, and will hopefully make politicians and state officials sit up and start treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves.
Doctors and Patients Marching Together
As Jindřich Bayer, a legendary Czech cannabis activist who spread the knowledge of the medicinal qualities of potent cannabis extracts throughout Central and Eastern Europe, noted on his Facebook page: “I believe this will be the first time ever that we see doctors taking to the streets alongside patients to demonstrate against the politicians who are not meeting their obligations and are keeping medical cannabis unavailable in the Czech Republic even though it has been legally available since 2013.”
It’s hard to say if this first demonstration will achieve any real results, most likely not – especially when taken into account that there are parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic next month –, but hey, we have to start somehow. As more and more people around the world are discovering the amazing therapeutic effects of this non-toxic plant, there will only be more and more protesting patients and more “ordinary” people standing behind them demanding change.