The Czech Republic has long taken a prohibitionist approach to drug policy, but one man has been leading the call for change based on science rather than moralistic assumptions. Jindřich Vobořil, the country’s National Drug Coordinator, has argued for a more balanced approach founded on risk reduction rather than zero-tolerance.
Vobořil points to extensive research showing harsh criminal penalties do little to curb drug use or availability while severely overburdening the justice system. In the Czech Republic, punishments for simple marijuana possession can even exceed those for sexual abuse of minors. (A 17-year-old female student at a secondary school in Frýdek-Místek invited her classmates to the school’s basement during recess, where they smoked a marijuana cigarette together. The whole incident was discovered and the girl is now charged with the offense of illicit production and possession of drugs. If she were already of age, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, but as a juvenile she faces up to 5 years in prison. Her friend, who sold her a cigarette for 40 CZK / 1,6 EUR, faces the same penalty.)
“Prohibition always turns against people,” says Vobořil. “It’s a cruel social experiment that has never worked.”
Rather than banning various substances, Vobořil advocates a regulated legal framework along the lines of alcohol and tobacco – where production, distribution and sales are controlled through licensing but consumption itself is not criminalized for all adults. Taxes could fund prevention programs more effectively than prison overcrowding. Countries like the Netherlands that invested in harm reduction strategies, he notes, see better outcomes for youth drug use compared to prohibitionist nations like the Czech Republic and France.
The coordinator’s proposals have gained traction with experts and the general public, though face pushback from conservative politicians. A proposed law would create a new category of “psychomodulatory substances” like kratom and lower-potency cannabis to be sold to adults only, but received objections from multiple ministries. Vobořil remains committed to open debate and gaining support through evidence-guided discussion rather than ideology.
While some remain wary of normalization, most agree the current system fails citizens. As the leading government advocate for reform, Vobořil makes his case at conferences, in media interviews and through advising lawmakers with care and rigor. By centering drug policy in medical science rather than moral views alone, he hopes to steer the Czech lands toward safer, wiser solutions for all.
And we hope so too.
You can learn more here:
Banning addictive substances won’t help. Let’s aim to harm reduction, Vobořil urges (article in Zdravotnický deník / Medical Journal)
Legalization of cannabis in Czech Republic – a discussion with National Drug Coordinator J. Vobořil (Youtube interview by Peter Sarosi / Drugreporter Café)