“Legal” cannabis is being used as a cover for black market distribution, police warn

Since early last year, growers can legally grow products with up to one percent of the active ingredient THC. Earlier, the permissible limit was only 0.3%. “The percentage was raised to ensure that those who produce seeds and fibers are not criminals,” said Jakub Friedrich MF DNES, head of the National Anti-Narcotics Headquarters.

However, with the increase in the permissible limit, the number of manufacturers has essentially increased. Among them are those who, by growing “legal” cannabis, hide only the classic production of marijuana intended for the black market.

“It’s definitely not a one-off. It’s complicated by the fact that there are more players growing cannabis to extract the CBD (health-enhancing active substance – editor’s note),” said Jakub Friedrich, head of the anti-narcotics police.

According to him, the police and customs officials faced “masking” in 20 cases last year alone. “In 2022 we recorded similar activity in three cases handled by the Central Office of Anti-Narcotics, two cases by the Customs Administration and about ten to fifteen cases in regional directorates,” Friedrich said.

Tons grown underground

In one of the biggest such cases in recent times, the police submitted a charge-sheet proposal to the public prosecutor a few days ago. A 42-year-old man from Brumovsko officially ran a farm where he grew cannabis with a permissible THC content.

But underground on his farm, a unique system of three cargo containers operated, growing marijuana with a high THC content. The way he grows half a ton of marijuana, worth millions of crowns over the years, is somewhat reminiscent of the American action movie Gentlemen.

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In the film, a gang builds a giant underground facility to grow cannabis. In the case mentioned, it was a very simple criterion. During the raid, detectives seized nearly two hundred marijuana plants.

The latest figures show that the illegal cannabis business is still thriving in the Czech Republic. According to the latest annual report of the National Narcotics Control Center for 2021, the police have seized the largest amount of the dry substance in history. Forty percent of drug crimes in the Czech Republic are related to marijuana.

When it comes to legalization

Anti-narcotics coordinator Jindrich Voboril’s proposal would, among other things, legalize self-cultivation and create a regulated market, meaning manufacturers and state-licensed distributors.

According to Vobořil, this could bring four billion crowns to the state treasury. This money should go to, among other things, a program that protects marijuana users from the dangers. There seems to be broad support for what the government will get in a few days. Only people resist. Among other things, they don’t like that there are insufficient skills for the care of drug addicts.

According to KDU-ČSL vice-president Jan Bartošek, loosening measures will lead to an increase in marijuana users. “The question of availability is one of the main parameters of use. When the range of availability is reduced, the rate of cannabis use increases,” Bartosek told MF DNES. “This proposal (meaning voborilin – editor’s note) goes too far into the hands of farmers and ignores many safety risks,” MP Bartosek said.

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Vobořil himself admits that criminals can hide behind the legal cultivation of cannabis and wants to solve it. He expects the new regulation to come into effect next year.

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