Czech President Miloš Zeman is expected to sign a bill that would set the limit for THC in industrial hemp at 1.0% and significantly loosen up rules regarding THC in finished hemp products.
The Czech Republic’s Chamber of Deputies, the Parliament’s lower house, this week turned back a challenge from Senate critics who tried to strike the limit re-set, passing a package of amendments that would also improve the availability of medical marijuana, and make it easier to get a license to grow medical cannabis.
In addition to a 1.0% THC limit for hemp plants “on the field,” finished hemp products with less than 1.0% THC by weight would not be considered addictive substances and would be exempt from the country’s substance abuse regime. That would make products such as extracts and tinctures that meet the new threshold freely available at retail in the Czech Republic.
‘Big step forward’
If the Czech Republic establishes the limit for THC in industrial hemp at 1.0%, it would set the country at odds with the EU, which re-set the outer limit at 0.3% late last year, raising the barrier from 0.2%; the 0.3% EU limit is expected to become effective in 2023.
It would also put the country in the vanguard of nations around the world that are establishing 1.0% THC as their national limits, breaking with the generally accepted global guidance of 0.3% that has been observed since hemp re-emerged in the 1990s. The higher level would give hemp farmers breathing room in field crops, which can go “hot” or over the THC limit under some conditions. With most European hemp bred to stay near 0.2% THC, Czech farmers would have great latitude under a limit five times that percentage.
Advantage in CBD
More importantly, CBD content grows in proportion to THC in hemp plants, making the process of extraction more efficient. That would give Czech growers and producers a decided advantage over their European competitors.
“This is a package of pragmatic measures, free from dogmatism and stereotyping,” the Pirate Party said in a statement posted to its website. It was the Pirate Party that submitted the increase in the THC limit and other changes in the packet of amendments to the Czech Republic’s law on addictive substances. The amendment was drafted with input from a range of stakeholders and experts represented by the CzecHemp Cluster, which become its main supporter in the lower house.
Under the updated laws, multiple licensed private groups could be authorized to manufacture medical cannabis products. Proponents say the changes would expand the availability and diversity of products through competition certain to drive down prices to patients.