Cannabis vending machines will be operating in 50 locations across the Czech Republic. Dozens of CBDmats should be placed in the coming weeks, with the first ones in Prague, Ostrava, Olomouc and Pasohlávky in South Moravia.
The products are being sold for their health benefits. They have very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannot induce intoxication. Instead, they are being sold for their cannabidiol (CBD) content, which has been linked to several areas of wellness.
While the concept here is new, the Czech Republic is lagging behind its neighbors in Poland and Austria, where such vending machines have become common.
“In the future, vending machines with cannabis products could be used in fitness rooms, hotels or at airports,” CBDmat general manager René Sirý told news server Lidovky.cz.
The machines work like typical vending machines. A person chooses a number that corresponds to a product, and makes a payment.
“So far, only basic products are available. In addition to buds, there is CBD oil, drops and hemp disinfectants,” Sirý said. Three grams of hemp flowers in an opaque bag costs 750 CZK.
He warns that the products are not designed for smoking. “Concerning consumption, we write that it is not possible to smoke the cannabis, but only use it for evaporation or as an ointment,” Sirý said. The products are labeled as collectors’ items.
The level of THC in available CBDmat products is just below the legal maximum, meaning below 0.3% of the dry weight. Cannabis products used for psychotropic effects contain much more THC, usually around 15%.
Sirý said he was not interested in the market for high-THC cannabis, but instead wanted to sell CBD products with sedative, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic and other health benefits.
“We do not want to move to the edge of the law in the future,” he said, adding that the products are also labeled that they are not for sale to people under 18 years of age. Sirý claims that he is not a pioneer in the matter, and e-shops have long sold similar items.
Sirý is interested in following the example of the US and Canada where CBD-enriched candy bars, drinks, soaps, pads and other products are sold in vending machines. The CBD pads, for example, reduce jet lag and can be found for sale in hotels.
The law for selling cannabis products with low THC levels, though, is not so clear.
While in the Czech Republic, people can cultivate “technical cannabis” or hemp with a THC level up to 0.3%, the Czech Ministry of Health says that the sale of products with any level of THC, even below 0.3%, faces legal restrictions.
“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 told Lidovky.cz.