Czech medical cannabis sales show timid growth despite insurance coverage

Medical cannabis sales in the Czech Republic remain largely insignificant despite health insurance coverage being in place since January 2020, new data shows.

Since the beginning of the year, an average of only 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of flower has been sold per month via prescription.

June and July were record months with 6 kilograms of total sales on average.

With total sales in 2020 below 40 kilograms as of the end of August, the Czech Republic will likely end this year with a total market of less than 75 kilograms – unless the current linear growth trend drastically changes in the coming quarter.

The country continues to be a minor player in the European cannabis industry, and expectations that insurance coverage would prompt significant growth have not yet materialized.

Moreover, the latest data shows that:

  • The number of patients decreased from 1,103 in June to 998 in August.
  • Sales fell from 6,050 grams in July to 5,494 in August.

Since July 1, new regulations mandate that doctors provide information to the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) on the results of medical cannabis treatments using an anonymized form.

The Czech survey, which includes information on adverse reactions and treatment outcomes, resembles a process in Germany.

Since the beginning of 2020, Czech patients have been entitled to insurance coverage on 90% of the retail price for 30 grams of flower per month for medical use, regardless of THC content.

In exceptional cases, doctors may authorize quantities exceeding the monthly limit of 30 grams for reimbursement, but the limit cannot exceed 180 grams per month.

What happens in practice, however, is far different: Roughly 1,000 patients receiving cannabis treatment in the past month have had access to about 5 grams per month each on average.

As Marijuana Business Daily previously reported, bureaucratic hurdles and limited participation in the medical marijuana program by doctors and pharmacies represent challenges that were not resolved with the introduction of the health insurance coverage scheme.

Elkoplast Slušovice remains the only domestic producer.

The latest harvests made available by the company were 7.2 kilograms in May and almost 5 kilograms at the end of July, according to the State Agency for Medical Cannabis (SAKL).

The rest of the supply is imported mainly from Canadian producers Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis.

Alfredo Pascual can be reached at