Czechs In Quandary Over Legal Medical Marijuana

CZECHOSLOVAKIA:  Just three years ago, the only thing that Zdenek Majzlik knew about cannabis was that it’s good stuff for making rope. Today, the 67-year-old retired nuclear power plant employee is an experienced grower who cultivates pot for his daughter who has multiple sclerosis.

Majzlik faces a thorny dilemma: The Czech Republic legalized medical marijuana use this year, but maintained strict restrictions on growing, selling and importing it. For Majzlik, the solution is breaking the law to grow pot for his daughter.

“She’s my child and it is my duty to take care of her,” Majzlik said, standing in front of a cannabis plant in his garden. “I do what I have to and I will continue doing so. I have no other option.”

Medical marijuana is legal in a number of European countries, Israel and 20 U.S. states as well the District of Columbia. Advocates say it gives patients relief from the debilitating symptoms of illnesses including cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, where more conventional treatment fails.

The Czech Republic’s parliament legalized medical marijuana this year by an overwhelming majority, with the law becoming effective April 1. But some 20,000 patients who are estimated to be eligible for cannabis treatment have no chance to get it legally — although so far police have largely ignored renegade growers such as Majzlik who technically would face prison.

Patients and medical experts blame interference by the Health Ministry, which has long fiercely opposed legalizing medical marijuana.


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