Czech Republic awards marijuana import license

The Czech Republic has approved its first license to import medical cannabis, a key step that will help kick-start the nation’s MMJ industry.

A firm called Elkoplast Slusovice received a license from the health department to buy seven pounds of marijuana from the Netherlands. The company expects to receive the shipment within a few weeks.

It could still be a while before the cannabis makes it onto the shelves of pharmacies in the Czech Republic, as the country still needs to set up an electronic registry before it will allow MMJ sales.

But the progress moves the nation a big step closer to having a bona-fide cannabis industry, which will provide opportunities for existing marijuana businesses in the United States and Canada.

While the Czech Republic won’t import medical cannabis from North America, it could rely on outside consultants, software providers and other MMJ companies at it develops an infrastructure. Some US companies that make infused products have also been able to tap the market, and others hope to do so once cannabis sales commence.

Lawmakers legalized the medical use of marijuana in April. The country is relying solely on imported medical cannabis from the Netherlands at the start but plans to issue up to 10 cultivation licenses next year.

The market is sizable: an estimated 20,000 patients are eligible to sign up for the MMJ program.