When Germany tried to introduce sweeping cannabis reform, its efforts met resistance from the European Commission. These setbacks have made the Czech Republic the main protagonist in Europe’s legalization scene. And at the heart of this unique challenge is the Schengen Agreement, signed in 1995.
Mikuláš Peksa, representing the European Pirate Party, expressed his concerns in an interview. He stressed that the main challenge for countries looking to legalize cannabis is the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement between the 27 EU member states. Despite these challenges, the Czech Republic has ambitious plans to amend this agreement, which would open the door for legalization in other EU countries.
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The Schengen Agreement and the movement of goods
Created in 1995, the Schengen Agreement was designed to create a single market where goods, capital, services, and people can move freely. It sounds simple in theory, but the practice is more complicated, especially when it comes to such a controversial product as cannabis. Nevertheless, experts such as Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli and Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy believe that certain aspects of the agreement can be adjusted to allow legal cannabis trade.
Although it is difficult for member states to abandon their Schengen obligations, there have been cases where exceptions have been made. Procedures that will allow EU member states to speed up the creation of an adult-use cannabis market were outlined in a recent report. In the document, “EU Presidency Policy Summary: Treaty Compliance Options for Cannabis Legislation in the EU (Decriminalization and Regulatory Models Compatible with International Law and the EU Acquis)” examines the obstacles to reform.
Co-authors are leading European cannabis researchers Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli and Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy of Paris-based Augur Associates. In the report, they said such reform is acceptable under Schengen.
Elections 2024: Hope for Change
While the exact details of the talks between Germany and the European Commission are not yet known, it is known that Germany has agreed to certain concessions. Instead of creating an official cannabis market, they have opted for a more moderate approach, legalizing possession of up to 25g of cannabis, cultivation for personal use, creating cannabis associations, and conducting several research projects.
The chairman of the European Pirate Party in the Czech Republic, Mikuláš Peksa, hopes the change in approach to legalization will be easier after the 2024 elections.
Czech Republic on the front line
The Czech Republic appears determined to introduce full legalization of cannabis, even at the cost of conflict with the European Commission. The Czech Republic’s Federal Commissioner for Drugs, Jindřich Vobořil, has indicated that the country is ready to introduce a legal market for adult-use cannabis. Despite the potential legal consequences, many Czech experts believe the industry will be able to thrive, regardless of the court’s decision.
The Czech Republic’s commitment to legalizing cannabis in Europe is not just a national initiative. It is a move that could affect the future of the entire European Union. Although the road ahead is bumpy, the Czechs’ spirit of determination could become an inspiration to other member states.
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First published in Fakty Konopne. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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