Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination

Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination

The development and enforcement of the national drug policy is the responsibility of the Government of the Czech Republic. As early as 1993 the Government of the Czech Republic laid the foundations for the national drug policy, which have been further developed and updated. The main advisory, coordination and initiating body for drug-related issues is the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination (“GCDPC” or “the Council”). The GCDPC has established committees and working groups for specific tasks and areas of drug policy. The members of the GCDPC are the heads of the relevant ministries, other segments of the public administration, and entities involved in dealing with the issue of drug policy including the Association of Regions, Association of NGOs, professional associations of adictologists or an expert nominated by the Prime minister for drug issues. The Council submits proposals for measures and activities pertaining to the drug policy to the Government, coordinates and evaluates the implementation of drug policy, and checks whether, and to what extent, the tasks ensuing from the National Strategy and the Action Plans are fulfilled (see the Statute of the GCDPC).

In dealing with the practical day-to-day agenda related to the above activities, the Council is assisted by the Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination (“the GCDPC Secretariat”). The GCDPC Secretariat is responsible for the preparation of strategic drug policy documents, for the practical implementation of such documents and the day-to-day coordination of the drug policy, for the funding of drug policy programmes and in cooperation with the Certification Agency manages certification system of the professional services for drug users, which GCDPC approves and issues for ideally 4 years (see the professional competency of services for drug users).

In addition, the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on drug use, its effects, and the drug policy measures are performed by means of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction (National Focal Point). This National Focal Point is the Czech national partner of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the Czech partner of the REITOX network of the monitoring of the situation concerning psychotropic substances (see www.drogy-info.cz/en).

Coordination mechanisms

The implementation and coordination of the Czech drug policy takes place at two domestic levels, central and regional. At the national level the means of coordination are: Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination, national drug coordinator, working group of GCDPC, national strategy, action plans, annual reports on the drug and gambling situation. The core means of the coordination of regional and municipal drug policies are drug coordinators, drug commissions and working groups, drug policy strategies and action plans, and monitoring of the drug situation on the regional level. These entities play a significant role in the communication of tasks and knowledge from the central level to the local ones and vice versa. A drug policy is carried out not only at national and regional level but also at international level. The Government declares its support for the UN International Conventions on Drugs, the Political Declaration and the Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem, the conclusions of the Dublin Conference, and the Health for All in the 21st Century policy promoted by the World Health Organisation. The National Drug Policy Strategies builds upon the objectives and measures laid down in the EU Drugs Strategy, which stands for values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, solidarity, rule of law and human rights.

Currently, the main political framework and document guiding the drug policy in Czech Republic is the National Drug Policy Strategy for 2010-18. The drug policy strategy is based on four pillars of the drug policy: (1) Primary Prevention; (2) Treatment and Social Reintegration; (3) Harm Reduction, and (4) Drug Supply Reduction and Regulation. To ensure appropriate conditions for the accomplishment of the objectives, the strategy also encompasses three supporting areas: (1) Coordination and Funding; (2) Monitoring, Research, and Evaluation, and (3) International Cooperation. The implementation of the strategy is supported by a series of action plans that are drafted for a shorter period and set more specific priorities and activities in drug policy.

In 2014 the Government approved a new concept of drug policy. In December 2014, the issues of alcohol and gambling were incorporated to the National Drug Policy Strategy for the Period 2010-2018. The second revision was approved in January 2016 and emphasised the problem of tobacco control. The drug policy was newly redefined as integrated drug policy, which means that it links together the issues of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs and gambling, associated dependency disorders and other health and social impacts and consequences. This was the reason for development of 3 new action plans (an Action Plan on gambling issues (2015-2018), on alcohol issues (2015-2018) and on tobacco control issues (2015-2018)), approval of new status of the GCDPC and for revision of established committees and setting new working groups of GCDPC. In line with this, the membership of the GCDPC was expanded to three new members - Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Czech Association of addictologists and after two years later by two other members - Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Association of Providers of Social Services.

Following the revisions the National Drug Policy Strategy defines four general objectives: (1) to reduce the level of experimental and occasional use of addictive substances, particularly among young people and to reduce the level of gaming among children and youth; (2) to reduce the level of problem and intensive use of addictive substances and problem gambling; (3) to reduce potential risks related to the use of addictive substances and problem gaming to individuals and society, and (4) to reduce availability of addictive substances, particularly to young people and to strengthen the regulation of gambling.

The basic legal framework of Czech drug laws

The tenets and principles which the Czech drug policy had pursued since the early 1990s were subsequently stipulated in Act No. 379/2005 Coll., on measures to protect against harms caused by tobacco products, alcohol and other addictive substances. This Act was replaced on May 31, 2017 by Act No. 65/2017 Coll., on health protection from the harmful effects of drugs, which completely prohibits smoking in indoor restaurants, entertainment areas, etc., ban the sale of alcohol, tobacco and related products in healthcare facilities, schools and educational establishments, ban the sale of tobacco, electronic cigarettes and alcoholic beverages through vending machines in mobile stores,...

In 2016, Directive 2014/40/EU, on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products was implemented into Czech legal framework an amendment to Act No. 110/1997 Coll., on foodstuffs and tobacco products, which introduces a system of health warnings on the cigarette packages.

The basic legal framework for gambling in Czech Republic provides the Act No. 186/2016 Coll., on gambling, which replaced the Act no. 202/1990 Coll., on lotteries and other similar games. The new act opens the Czech market for operators from EU and EEA, introduces advanced gambling categorization, sets a comprehensive framework for the gambling practice on the Internet and sets measures to reduce the risk of development of problem and pathological gambling.

The basic legal framework of Czech drug laws is based on criminal law, i.e. Act No. 40/2009 Coll., the Criminal Code and Act No. 141/1961 Coll. amended, the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The year 2014 witnessed substantial changes in the legal framework governing the issue of addictive substances and precursors. This leads to two separate laws, Act No. 272/2013 Coll., on drug precursors, and Act No. 273/2013 Coll., amending Act No. 167/1998 Coll., on addictive substances and on changes to some other laws, as amended. It causes a distinction to be made between the legal regulations governing addictive substances on one hand and drug precursors on the other hand. Among other modifications provides that the list of substances is no longer included in the schedules of Act No. 167/1998 Coll., on addictive substances, as was the case from 1999 to 2013, but has been incorporated into Government Regulation No. 463/2013 Coll., on the lists of addictive substances (last updated February 15, 2017). List of precursors is contained in secondary legislation too, i.e. Government Regulation No. 458/2013 Sb., on the list of initial substances and adjuvants and their yearly threshold quantities.

Criminal Code

The Criminal Code, Act No. 40/2009 Coll., as amended by Act No. 306/2009 Coll., sets forth under the provisions of sections 283-288 thereof, and blade of crimes directly connected with unauthorised handling of drugs (hereinafter "narcotic and psychotropic substances" - "NPSSA").

The Criminal Code defines 6 drug law crimes:

  • section 283 – unauthorised production and other handling of narcotic and psychotropic substances and poisons,
  • section 284 – possession of a narcotic or psychotropic substance or poison,
  • section 285 – unauthorised cultivation of plants containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance,
  • section 286 – manufacturing and possession of an article for the unauthorised production of a narcotic or psychotropic substance or poison,
  • section 287 – promotion of drug use,
  • section 288 – production and other handling of substances with hormonal effect.

As regards the overall conception of the new Criminal Code, it can be said that from January 1, 2010 the assessment of criminal liability will significantly differ from the Criminal Code as applicable until 2009. Under the new Criminal Code, a crime consists of any illegal act which the Criminal Code designates as a crime, and which displays the features stated therein, regardless of the given act's endangerment of society (degree of damage etc.) (section 13 (1) of the Criminal Code). In this light, therefore, the crime of possession of NPSSA and poisons in the meaning of section 284 of the Criminal Code will consist of every act of a criminally liable offender which possesses without authorisation and for personal use any substance from the defined group (under Government Regulation No. 463/2013 Coll., on the lists of addictive substances), at the least in the quantity stipulated by a government decree.

Section 289 – Joint provisions – establishes inter alia legal authorisation for the government to stipulate in a decree what quantity constitutes a quantity greater than small for NPSs for the purposes of sections 283, 284 and 285 of the Criminal Code, and which plants or mushrooms are deemed to be plants and mushrooms containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance in the meaning of section 285, and what quantity thereof is a quantity greater than small in the meaning of section 285. This provision conferring authority was included into the Criminal Code in particular in view of the difficulties with practical application and the differing interpretations of the term quantity “greater than small” under the prior legislation at the level of the police force, state representation, and courts. In 2009, the government passed a regulations relating to the cultivation of plants and mushrooms for personal use; Government Regulation No. 455/2009 Coll., setting out for the purposes of the Criminal Code which plants and mushrooms should be considered plants and mushrooms containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance and what quantities of them should be considered greater than small in accordance with the Criminal Code. In additional, Government Regulation No. 467/2009 Coll., specifying or the purposes of the Criminal Code what constitutes a poison and defining the quantities greater than small for narcotic substances, psychotropic substances, any preparations containing such substances, and poisons. Significant part of the legal framework is formed by Government Regulation No. 458/2013 Sb., on the list of initial substances and adjuvants and their yearly threshold quantities (last updated December 19, 2016).

Possession of drugs for personal use and cultivation of plants and mushrooms containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance “in a small quantity” are excluded from criminal prosecution. These violations of law are punished by administrative law as a misdemeanour (Act No. 200/1990 Coll., Act of Violations). According to the provision of subsection 30(1) (j) of the said Act, a misdemeanour has been committed by whoever “without authorisation possesses in a small quantity for their own use a narcotic or psychotropic substance”. Possession of such a substance in a quantity greater than small is qualified as the crime pursuant to the provisions of section 284 of the Criminal Code. According to the provisions of section 30(1) (k) of the cited Act, a misdemeanour has been committed by whoever “without authorisation cultivates in a small quantity for their own use a plant or mushroom containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance”. Cultivation of such plants or mushrooms in a quantity greater than small shall be qualified as the crime pursuant to the provisions of section 285 of the Criminal Code. For both misdemeanours, offenders face a fine of up to CZK 15,000, although they may also be sanctioned by a warning and forfeiture of an item of property.

The theme of a "greater than small" amount of drugs has since been at the centre of debates concerning the legal regulation of drug possession in the Czech Republic. In 2001, the Government adopted Resolution No. 1177/01, which categorized drugs according to their social and health risks. Initially, drugs were grouped into three categories, but the Ministry of Justice subsequently came up with a proposal for two categories – cannabis and other drugs. The provisions of different penalties for cannabis were formalised by virtue of Act No. 40/2009 Coll., Criminal Code, which came into effect in January 2010. Possession of a quantity “greater than small” of (a) cannabis or other substances containing THC is punished with up to 1 year imprisonment, prohibition of business activity, or forfeiture of an item of property or other asset, while possession of (b) other drugs punishable by up to 2 years, prohibition of business activity, or forfeiture of an item of property or other asset.

Medical Cannabis

Act No. 50/2013 Coll., amending Act No. 378/2007 Coll., on pharmaceuticals, Regulation No. 463/2013 Coll., on the lists of addictive substances, and Act. No. 634/2004 Coll., on Administrative Fees, introduces the option of using cannabis for therapeutic purposes in the Czech Republic. Medical cannabis use is only possible in line with Ministerial Notice No. 236/2015 Coll., establishing the conditions for prescribing, preparation, distribution, supply and use of individually prepared medicines containing cannabis for therapeutic use, amending Notice No. 221/2013 Coll.  Limits of medical cannabis for 1 patient are currently, compared to the original 30g, 180g per month. GPs can´t prescribe, only various specially qualified doctors, such as oncologists and psychiatrists, and only for over-18s only. This Notice increased allowable values of delta-9-THC to 21% and CBD to 19%. The indications were extended (using cannabis for treatment of dermatoses or chronic pain in connection with glaucoma) and other medical professions have been included to prescribe cannabis.

 

Drug-related information

Drug-related information may be found on the national website drogy-info.cz. The developments in the drug policy and drug and gambling situation are published in the annual report on the drug situation in the Czech Republic and annual report on gambling situation in the Czech Republic. All reports are published on the site drogy-info.cz. A summary of drug situation and summary of gambling situation is available also in English.

 

A part of the website drogy-info.cz is the so called Mape of Aid - a database of Czech treatment facilities, other helping institutions and drug coordinators in the Czech Republic (English and Czech language version).

Contact Address

Postal address:
Office of the Government of the Czech Republic 
Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination
nábřeží E. Beneše 4
CZ-118 01 Praha 1
Czech Republic Phone: +420 296 153 318
opk@vlada.cz
The office is seated at the addr. - Vladislavova 1494/4, 110 00 Praha 1.

Contacts:
Mgr. Jindřich Vobořil, PgDip.
National Drug Coordinator,
Head of the Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination
voboril.jindrich@vlada.cz
MUDr. Viktor Mravčík
Head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (National Focal Point)
mravcik.viktor@vlada.cz
Kateřina Horáčková
Foreign Cooperation
horackova.katerina@vlada.cz

Documents attached