Why it matters: The editor in chief and publisher of a Czech Republic publication called Legalizace has been fined and convicted for “inciting the abuse of addictive substances” and “spreading drug addiction through his magazine” by writing about cannabis. This case brings up questions about freedom of the press and the right to inform the public about topics that are controversial.
What they are saying: Robert Veverka, the publisher, claims that he was sentenced under a “rubber law” that is very flexible and includes a paragraph that considers the promotion of illegal substances a crime, except for alcohol. He plans to appeal the case in higher courts to protect not only himself but any other media outlet that chooses to write about cannabis. He feels that the verdict reflects an ignorance of cannabis legislation and is based on a general repressive view that positive information about cannabis is unacceptable to the establishment. The court’s judgement refers to a section in the law on the propagation of “toxicomania,” which is a Bolshevik relic from the days of the totalitarian communist regime.
The big picture: Cannabis has been decriminalized in the Czech Republic since 2010, and medical cannabis became legal in 2013. Recreational cannabis use and possession is not legal, but the Czech government is drafting a bill to regulate the industry, which was originally expected to be presented in March 2023. Czech Republic officials are also coordinating with German officials to create a similar approach to adult-use cannabis legalization.
What to watch: It will be interesting to see whether Veverka’s case sparks a larger debate about freedom of the press and the right to inform the public about controversial topics. It will also be important to follow the Czech Republic’s progress in legalizing adult-use cannabis and how this case may affect the future of cannabis journalism in the country.
My take: It is important to protect freedom of the press and the right to inform the public about controversial topics. While promoting illegal activities should not be condoned, writing about a controversial topic like cannabis should not be considered a crime. The Czech Republic’s progress in legalizing adult-use cannabis shows that they are moving towards a more progressive stance on cannabis, and hopefully, this will lead to a more open and informed discussion about the plant.