Vending machines with cannabis for sale have been appearing in the Czech Republic lately, although the low-THC products offered are unlikely to get anyone high. Instead, cannabis flower, oil, and tinctures high in CBD are available from the machines, which have already popped up in the cities of Prague, Ostrava, Cheb, and Olomouc and the tiny village of Pasohlávky in the South Moravia region of the country.
The vending machines are designed just like those designed for snacks or beverages. Dubbed CBD Mat, they carry products intended for general health and wellness. And while that includes cannabis flower high in CBD, the buds are not supposed to be rolled into a joint or packed into a bong, according to the company’s chief executive.
“It’s written on each product that cannabis is not intended for smoking, but only for vaporization or the production of ointments and similar,” said René Sirý, the CEO of CBD Mat.
Low-Potency Cannabis Only
He also noted that while the CBD Mat buds are from strains of cannabis (often referred to as hemp) that contain less than 0.3% THC by weight, the varieties used for getting high are much more potent.
“What people smoke illegally usually contains about 10 or 15 percent of THC. We just want to sell CBD products that can be beneficial for certain types of people without psychoactive side effects,” added Sirý, noting that CBD has been shown to have sedative, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and other medicinal properties.
The CBD Mat vending machines are open for use by both Czech citizens and tourists visiting the country. The company has expansion plans that include bringing the total number of machines up to 50 in the coming weeks, with placement in a variety of appropriate locations.
“In the future, vending machines with cannabis products could be used in fitness rooms, hotels, or at airports,” said Sirý.
The CBD Mats operate just like other vending machines, with customers selecting the desired product and making payment for it to be dispensed. Although the initial selection of CBD products is limited, it could eventually be expanded to include cosmetics, foods, and cold drinks.
“So far, only basic products are available,” Sirý said. “In addition to buds, there is CBD oil, drops, and hemp disinfectants.”
Is It Legal?
Under Czech law, selling or cultivating cannabis is a felony that can be punished with up to eight years in prison. The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes was legalized by the Czech government in 2013, and two years later regulations for its use were established, including the medical conditions that qualify a patient to use cannabis medicinally and rules for the manufacturing, distribution, and use of medical marijuana products.
Sirý said that the laws against cannabis do not apply to the CBD Mat products because of their low THC level, and added that the company does not intend to offer more potent products.
“We do not want to move to the edge of the law in the future,” he said.
However, a government official said that any amount of THC in a product makes it illegal to possess without authorization.
“The law does not allow individuals to acquire addictive substances and preparations containing them other than on the basis of a prescription or as part of a hospitalization,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Gabriela Štěpanyová said.