Tag Archives: Czech Republic
Prague is a weed friendly city. Yesterday morning on my way to work, there was a pretty, hippie looking girl walking down the street smoking a big old joint. She looked busy within her world but oblivious to the people around her. Nobody else cared or noticed she was smoking. This is something you come across often in this city, pretty girls and marijuana. Czech movies portray pot smoking as somehow romantic, a lost, gentle soul living his or her life their own way. Besides Spain and Holland we have the most liberal attitude to cannabis in Europe. You are much more likely to see people smoking on the streets of Prague than you are in Amsterdam or Madrid.
During those golden summer evenings that are all but forgotten now we used to go to the best outdoor pub in the city. Letna park sits up on the north bank of the city. From this height you look down on everything but the castle itself. Drinking a beer and sharing a joint as we all find the night more and more amusing. The city hum is drowned out by our fellow revelers.
Alas the autumn is here. We have only a few warm days left until we are pushed into warm thick coats and heated rooms below the street level. Prague has many basement bars, probably the most famous one is found at the top of Vodickova street. U Sudu is a bar for the people in the know. You will walk past it every time unless someone points it out. A small entrance leads to a cramped looking, long bar. The magic of U Sudu and probably for the Czech people themselves, is you have to go all the way in. At the back there is a door with stairs winding down into another room. From this space you can move deeper and deeper into the Prague night underground. Down there time stops. You are in a rabbit warren. Terrible Czech red wine is served with Pilsner beer. A cloud of pot smoke hangs over the tables and chairs. On more than one occasion I have lost my way in this place. I don’t know if the place was a bomb shelter or a forgotten section of metro. Whether new or old to the city, if you haven’t been, grab some pot and head on down.
What a complete mess! Sweden and Spain are the two extremes for the law on drugs in the European Union. Sweden follows a zero tolerance policy whereas Spain has decriminalized personal consumption. I was recently talking to a young Swedish person who didn’t want to, but had to smoke the legal synthetic cannabis instead of the real thing. He thought that the synthetic cannabis had messed him up, but he didn’t feel he had a choice. All his friends smoke synthetic pot regularly. I told him as strongly as I could, not to touch synthetic marijuana. It is dangerous and is mixed with strange chemicals in a warehouse somewhere in China. In contrast I have lived in Spain. Sharing a joint at the beach is a great way to spend an afternoon. I never made it to the Barcelona cannabis clubs but there was never a need to go to one as you could buy hash from the Moroccan guys or weed from Spanish friends.
Young European adults are exposed to the same western culture. Generally speaking, cannabis is seen as something fun and not dangerous. Science backs up this point of view but our governments treat cannabis as more dangerous than alcohol. The reason they do this is because America was so aggressive during the heights of their failed drugs war that they would economically punish countries if they didn’t conform to their ideas about drugs. Waves of propaganda left the public thinking that marijuana was something very bad. Thankfully today we are seeing the disastrous war on drugs coming to an end. In fact the American marijuana industry will soon be giving money to the politicians who I’m sure will then act in the industries best interest.
European citizens are in a state of confusion. Force fed a diet of American anti marijuana propaganda for decades it will take time to regain a factual approach and perspective to the herb. We have laws that currently make criminals out of European Union citizens for taking a substance into their bodies that is proven less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. We are punished for the circular argument of, because cannabis is illegal it is illegal. Almost all European countries treat cannabis as different from other drugs. This special treatment of marijuana is nice, but people are still going to prison for possession. We need change. Medical marijuana has helped patients that get access to it. From chronic pain to cancer the plant has shown wondrous medical benefits so every day that drags along without Brussels or our elected governments talking and doing something about it, is another day that a chronic pain sufferer must either pump toxic chemicals into their bodies or live with the constant maddening pain their illnesses inflict.
I also feel sorry for the Swedish people forced to use synthetic marijuana. Their government has failed them and is now too ignorant to admit their mistake and correct it. Swedish people might have to battle long and hard for legal access to the plant. The sooner they get organized and have their voice heard the better. There are great organizations out there to help. Norml and Encod.org can give a framework for activism. Europeans that are pro pot must connect and cooperate with each other. Cannabis is our choice, not the whim of a bloated, intellectually stunted bureaucratic system. We must take our rights, not ask for them. Cannabis clubs are a safe, organized approach to the subject and we will see the results in the following months and years.
You hear of dramatic illness reversals due to cannabis. Epileptic seizures that stop after the first administration of cannabis high in CBD. The research into cannabis’s medicinal value is growing and proving the benefits of the plant. Unfortunately for cancer, epileptic, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain suffering patients the Czech medical marijuana system is in a disgraceful state. The law has been passes allowing doctors to provide cannabis to seriously ill patients since April of 2013 but patients have still not had access to medical marijuana. The government gave out an import license to a plastic container manufacturer, Elkoplast Slušovice sro, and we have been waiting for the medical marijuana ever since.
A poor distribution network has meant few pharmacies have access to medical marijuana. They don’t have the required software to provide an electronic receipt to order the medicine. Also doctors don’t want to prescribe it due to a lack of information on its medical properties. For a European country that is in the top three per capita marijuana users, it is a sad state of affairs that the government has not done their research on the plant. The Czech drugs agency is falling behind the wide spread international movement that is embracing medical marijuana. Czech patients are suffering for the medical professions ignorance.
The Czech government are also in talks with potential suppliers of medical marijuana. When the required pound of flesh is paid, you can enter the market and become a marijuana producer. There was a competition earlier in the year to obtain a medical marijuana license but we are still waiting for the results. The Czech Republic is a notoriously corrupt society. During communism everyone was taught how to be corrupt. It is the normal way of doing business and the ones who profited the most from this system are now in charge. I can only presume that government officials are trying to work out how exactly they can make money from this new industry. Who bribes who to get the job done. That is nice if you are a high ranking civil servant with a Swiss bank account and no morals, but what about the suffering of a child with severe epilepsy? There are groups of hard working activists interested in these issue in the Czech Republic. Their voices get drowned out in a sea of other complaints that Czechs have as we try to emerge from the long shadow cast by the corrupting nature of this countries communist past.
This is not a hopeless situation however. Do not underestimate the resourcefulness of the Czech people. Patients and growers are connecting with each other in spite of the law and risks involved. The nature of marijuana allows it to be spread regardless of the restrictions placed upon it. I am hopeful that the legalize movement here and across Europe can inspire a change in the Czech system. Patients that can benefit from medical marijuana should be allowed to. Until a united voice speaks on behalf of the ill, we will see lazy, greedy figures in places of authority seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of other’s suffering.
The law says it is illegal. Drinking beer is fine, get your buzz on boys. Just don’t let me catch you with none of that there weed, ya hear. To be a pot smoker requires a strong stomach for hypocrisy. The alcohol drinking police enforce a law that doesn’t make sense. Pot is not dangerous, evil or wrong. It comes from nature, grows in the sunshine and gives you the giggles if you are in the right company.
As we struggle to free our younger selves from older generations ideas and standards, we can find hope in the gathering international pot movement. Down in little Uruguay, in a place called Cabo Polonio you can find a paradise of sorts. With little or no electricity, bright sunny days and lots of pot, this is the place that weed comes to when it takes a vacation.
The summer runs from December to March, which for any Pragonians (Prague people) out there, is the deepest, darkest part of our winter. Uruguay has completely legalized pot recently. Since 1976 pot was legal to consume, but illegal to grow, which basically made it illegal. That nonsense has been replaced by progressive legislation. Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica will go down in history as the first leader of a country to give back pot to the people.
The war on drugs, with its militant police and swollen budgets tried to stop Uruguay. Trade embargoes and other sanctions were threatened. Today, America itself is moving head long towards legalization of marijuana after being the chief, self appointed, world drugs police people.
Not that our pot brothers and sisters down in cabo Polonio actually cared what the official rule was, they were growing and smoking in their little slice of heaven anyway. They weren’t murdering each other, they were sharing their weed and lives instead.
There is a lot to love about Barcelona. The food, climate, people, football and least we forget, their pot clubs. Prohibition of marijuana has failed. Pumping money into police budgets and prisons is a waste of public funds. It is twice as bad when you consider that pot is a safer and healthier alternative to alcohol. You can easily buy marijuana in every city on the planet. It is a plant that has been around long before us, and by the way our species is acting, will be here long after the apes have taken over !!
In Barcelona, you join a cannabis club by showing your id and paying a membership fee. The clubs themselves are run as communities. You can find fantastic pot, at a decent price in a relaxed and safe environment. While Prague has a high tolerance for marijuana, you can have up to 10 grams for personal use, we still don’t have a formal agreement between smokers and the law.
There are klubs here in Prague that are attempting to establish themselves as pot clubs, but time will tell if they are successful or not. Over the last month some quite famous pot places here have been raided and shut down. It seems even as we get closer to legalization here in the Czech Republic, there is still pent up police aggression looking to hassle non violent people. Cannabis clubs are a step in the right direction. Why the police and politicians consider ignoring the situation rather than coming to a sensible agreement with their fellow human beings I will never know.
I guess until the day comes when you can freely and openly buy pot, we must rely on the old fashioned way of getting the herb. Find a good grower and make friends 🙂
Durban poison. Yeah man, now that is a strain of pot I can believe in. She comes from the strictly sativa side of the pot family, and I had the good fortune to be in South Africa the first time I smoked it. South Africa is one of those magical places, where everything is a bit of an adventure. Blue skies and long straight highways. I was traveling with a friend, staying stoned and as generally wasted as possible. I don’t know if that is a smart thing to do or not, just know it was a lot of fun. So we would go around, living off the african weed bounty. Every so often you would feel electrified because you were lucky enough to be smoking Durban poison. Each time with a big, shit eater grin I would ask the person who brought it, what planet was this grown on!
I remember we were staying in a place just outside Umkomaas. The sun was low in the sky when we arrived. We were staying in a funky old hostel. Built on the side of a steep hill, with beautiful gardens leading to each cabin. The Indian Ocean spilled off to the side and the breeze was a mixture of the ocean and blooming flowers. We unpacked our bags, rolled a couple of joints, and watched the sun go down from our sturdy wooden terrace. Far out to sea, we watched some dolphins swimming. The hippie bar girl just sat beside us in silence. Giving us time to take in our new surroundings. We went on to have a crazy few days there. Partying and meeting new friends. Of all the memories of that place none are as strong as the first few glimpses of the Indian ocean from that terrace and, each time I smoke Durban poison, I am brought back to that lovely place. A friend is currently growing some for me over here in Prague. Sometime in November I will be back, at least in my mind, to that hill, the hippie girl and golden African sunshine, as we toke on some Czech grown Durban poison