Czech Republic Celebrates First Medicinal Cannabis Harvest – A Milestone in Patient Care

Prague, Czech Republic – October 23, 2023 – In a momentous breakthrough, the Czech Republic has successfully completed its first-ever harvest of medicinal cannabis. The milestone achievement is a significant stride in the nation’s healthcare landscape, with the cultivation facility operated by the Faculty Hospital in Brno, near St. Anne’s Church, producing approximately seven kilograms of cannabis material from around 200 plants. Once the harvested cannabis undergoes drying and obtains the necessary distribution permits, it could be available to patients in time for the Christmas season.

The paramount advantage of medicinal cannabis lies in its ability to alleviate pain, making it a vital resource for patients with various conditions. This achievement marks the culmination of a decade-long journey by healthcare professionals to harness the therapeutic potential of cannabis for patient treatment within the country.

The final step in this journey entails securing permission from the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) for the distribution of the freshly cultivated cannabis to patients. Václav Trojan, the head of the cultivation facility, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We can cultivate cannabis in the Czech Republic, ensuring the highest quality and producing our own medicine. It took time, but it is incredible progress.”

In the Czech Republic, patients currently rely on 150 kilograms of cannabis annually for pain treatment related to injuries, rheumatism, degenerative spinal conditions, and cancer. The existing supply is imported from South America and Canada, creating a dependency that may soon be alleviated as healthcare professionals can cultivate cannabis domestically.

The Faculty Hospital in Brno, particularly St. Anne’s Church, has emerged as a pioneering institution in cannabis-based treatments. While the production of marijuana from cannabis plants initially faced scrutiny for using state funds to manufacture drugs, legislation in 2013 opened the door to cannabis treatment in the Czech Republic.

Dr. Radovan Hřib, a physician at the Hospital’s Pain Treatment Center, marked a significant milestone in 2015 by providing cannabis treatment to the first patient in the country. Initially, the hospital offered a mixture, but in April 2018, patients were granted the ability to inhale vaporized cannabis extracts. To cater to patients with different preferences and needs, the hospital developed cannabis capsules. Václav Trojan explained, “Some patients experienced coughing and difficulty breathing. It was challenging for non-smokers. That’s why we created our capsules, which contain a powder that can be swallowed with water.”

The quality of confiscated cannabis used in treatment has long been a subject of debate. Illegally cultivated cannabis prioritizes speed and often involves the use of excessive fertilizers, pesticides, and other substances, raising concerns among experts. As a result, the final product is often impure and not suitable for medical use.

In contrast, the Faculty Hospital’s cultivation facility adheres to strict regulations, ensuring the quality and purity of the cannabis plants. The facility’s goal is to achieve four cannabis harvests annually, yielding a total of 25 kilograms of dried material, with the aim of St. Anne’s Hospital becoming entirely self-sufficient in cannabis consumption. However, the ultimate objective is for the Czech Republic to achieve full autonomy in its cannabis production, potentially through the expansion of the hospital’s cultivation facility.

This remarkable achievement in the Czech Republic’s medical cannabis sector represents a significant step forward in providing effective treatment options for patients. As the country continues to cultivate its medicinal cannabis, it guarantees a reliable supply of high-quality medicine, paving the way for further advancements in healthcare and promoting the well-being of patients in need.

Article by Prague Forum

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