Young Czechs worst abusers of marijuana, ecstasy in EU

An annual survey on the drug situation by the European drug agency released on Thursday has confirmed that when it comes to the abuse of illegal drugs marijuana and ecstasy by young users, Czechs rank the very worst. This is despite the fact that over the last few years or so the situation in the country has actually somewhat improved.

A little earlier Jan Velinger discussed the situation with Viktor Mravčík of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction:

“According to the information available Czechs, especially teens, have the highest level of marijuana use in Europe. An earlier study showed this was true among 16-year-olds and in the Czech Republic, until 2003 there was a remarkably sharp increase. Between then and 2007, though, the prevalence rate in marijuana use stabilised. By comparison, countries where abuse was also high saw a drop, leaving the Czech Republic at the forefront.”

What are some of the factors, in your view, contributing to the high rate?

“There are many factors – or there is a package of factors - contributing to it. But if you look at countries with a recent decrease in drug use among the younger population, like France, which have seen a drop in cannabis use, or the UK, which were both formerly high up with the Czech Republic, both implemented programmes that have helped. They introduced a lot of programmes targeting the phenomenon: France, for instance, created dozens of clinics targeting hardcore cannabis users.

“By comparison, in the Czech Republic, not enough has been done. Czech drug policy has focussed on the core of the problem since 1993: hard drugs, often injected, such as opiates or the methamphetamine pervetine. Another problem is the transmission of infectious diseases, overdoses and so on. But earlier this year the government’s Council for Drug Policy Coordination adopted a concise package for intervention in marijuana use by young abusers. Of course, under current financial constraints, there will be a problem with full implementation. But this problem is something that will be addressed by the government next year.”