Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination

Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination

The development and enforcement of the national addiction policy is the responsibility of the Government of the Czech Republic.

The main advisory, coordination and initiating body for addiction policy is the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination (“GCDPC”). It creates a platform for continuous communication with ministries, other segments of the public administration, and other entities involved in the implementation of the policy (including non-governmental organisations and professional associations). The GCDPC submits proposals for measures and activities pertaining to the addiction-related policy to the Government, coordinates and evaluates their implementation, and checks whether, and to what extent, the tasks ensuing from the 2019-2027 National Strategy and the Action Plans are fulfilled at all levels. By its authority, the GCDPC secures financial resources for the implementation of the addiction policy and assures the quality of addiction services, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment and social reintegration services for people affected by addiction. Finally, working bodies are established as part of the GCDPC in order to promote inter-agency and interdisciplinary liaison (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 policy documents, for the practical implementation of such documents and the day-to-day coordination of the addiction policy, for the funding of addiction policyprogrammes and in cooperation with the Certification Agency manages certification system of the professional services for people who use drugs, which GCDPC approves and issues for ideally 4 years (see the professional competency of services for people who use drugs).

In addition, the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on substance use and gambling , its effects, and the addiction policymeasures 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 addictive behaviour policy is defined as a comprehensive and coordinated set of preventive, educational, therapeutic, social, regulatory, and control and law enforcement measures adopted on the international, national, regional, and local levels. Its purpose is to pursue a coordinated and evidence-based approach to preventing negative consequences of addictive behaviour and reducing the harm (health, social, economic, and immaterial) caused by addictive behaviour to both individuals and society as a whole, including its negative effects on public budgets. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to enhance the well-being of the population of the Czech Republic.

The implementation and coordination of the national addiction policy takes place at two domestic levels, central and regional. At the national level, the coordination is ensured by the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination, National Coordinator for Drug Policy, working groups and committees of GCDPC, national strategies, action plans, annual reports on the drug and gambling situation. The core means of the coordination of regional and municipal addiction policy policies are coordinators, commissions and working groups, strategies and action plans, and monitoring of the substance use and gambling 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. An addiction policy is carried out not only at national and regional level but also at international level. The Government declares its support for the UN 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 of 2009, the Joint Ministerial Statement of the 2014 high-level review by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the implementation by Member States of the Political Declaration and Plan of Action, the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the General Assembly, in 2016, entitled “Our joint commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem”, and the Ministerial Declaration on Strengthening Our Actions at the National, Regional and International Levels to Accelerate the Implementation of Our Joint Commitments to Address and Counter the World Drug Problem of 2019, and the Health for All in the 21st Century policy promoted by the World Health Organisation, World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of 2003 and other binding and non-binding international documents. The national addiction 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.

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 emphasized 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 addictive disorders and other health and social impacts and consequences. This was the reason for development of 3 new action plans (on gambling issues, on alcohol issues and on tobacco control issues), 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.

Currently, the key policy document of the Government of the Czech Republic which articulates its intentions and specific activities involving the implementation of measures aimed at preventing and reducing the harm related to substance use, pathological gambling, and the uncontrolled use of modern technologies among the Czech population is the National Strategy to Prevent and Reduce the Harm Associated with Addictive Behaviour 2019-2027 (hereinafter also referred to as “2019-2027 National Strategy”).

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 addiction policy.

In the forthcoming nine years, the 2019-2027 National Strategy will focus on the following priority areas, for which both general and specific objectives, activities, and interventions, to be detailed in action plans, will be defined:

  • Scaling up prevention and raising awareness
  • Ensuring a network of high-quality and accessible addiction services
  • Providing for effective regulation of markets with addictive substances and products with addictive potential
  • Improving the management, coordination, and the effective funding of the drug policy
  • The Strategy will also address the issues of medicinal products containing psychoactive substances, the uncontrolled use of the internet and new technologies, and cannabis and cannabinoids.

The basic legal framework of the national addiction policy

The tenets and principles which the national addiction policyhad 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, etc.

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 the 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 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 amending certain other acts. 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 October 25, 2018). 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., Act No. 330/2011 Coll. and Act No. 86/2015 Coll., sets forth under the provisions of sections 283-288 thereof crimes directly connected with unauthorised handling of drugs.

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.

Since January 1, 2010, 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 drugs 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 greater than small.

Section 289 – Joint provisions – establishes, inter alia, what is considered narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, preparations containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance, precursors used for the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. The Government decides what is considered to be poisons within the meaning of Sections 283, 284 and 286, and which plants are considered to be plants containing a narcotic or psychotropic substance under Section 285 and which is amount greater than small in terms of Section 285.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 center 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. In 2010, the Government regulation No. 467/2009, Coll. defined the amount "greater than small" and also differed penalties for cannabis (lower) and other drugs (higher). In 2013, the Governmental resolution was annulated - the Supreme Court adopted its unifying opinion on the interpretation of the term „greater than small“. 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 confiscation of property or other asset, while possession of (b) other drugs punishable by up to 2 years, prohibition of business activity, or confiscationof 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, and Act No. 167/1998 Coll., on addictive substances, introduces the option of using cannabis for medical 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.  The law sets the permitted amount of medical cannabis at 180 grams of dry matter per month. Furthermore, it enacts the prescription procedure of medical cannabis: only special electronic prescription is allowed for patients diagnosed with one of the few explicitly mentioned diseases (eg. chronic pain, spasticity, Tourette syndrom, dermatoses, chronic pain in connection with glaucoma etc.) and the prescription can only be issued by specific medical professionals.Allowable values are set on maximum of delta-9-THC to 21% and CBD to 19%.  The specialist doctors can prescribe medical cannabis only in the form of a restricted electronic prescription (e-prescription). In October, the Parliament approved an amendment to the Medicines Act that should allow 90% coverage of medical cannabis by insurance companies. This amendment will be effective from 1st January 2020. The passed proposal will see a limit of 30g per month for cannabis covered by public health insurance.

Information on addiction policy

Information on national addiction policy may be found on the national website drogy-info.cz. The developments in the addiction policy, drug and gambling situation are published in the annual reports on the drug situation in the Czech Republic and annual report on gambling situation in the Czech Republic (Czech language) and in the bulletin Focused on the site drogy-info.cz.

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

Office of the Government of the Czech Republic 
nábřeží E. Beneše 4
CZ-118 01 Praha 1
Phone: +420 224 003 860
opk@vlada.cz

 

The Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination is seated at nábřeží Ludvíka Svobody 1222/22, Prague 1 (building of the Ministry of Transport).

 

Contacts
 

Mgr. Jarmila Vedralová
National Drug Coordinator,
Head of the Secretariat of the Government Council for Drug Policy Coordination
vedralova.jarmila@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