German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and his Czech counterpart Lubomír Zaorálek on Friday signed a declaration on Czech-German strategic dialogue in Berlin. The agreement entails broadening cooperation in nine spheres, among them foreign policy, research, education, energy, culture and the fight against drug abuse. In the area of foreign policy the Czech Republic said it wanted to acquire know-how from Germany on how to combine economic diplomacy and defence of human rights.
The executive body of Prague City Council on Tuesday approved an amendment to the regulation on gambling, which will see the closure of about a third of all gambling venues in the capital. Several Prague’s districts, including Prague 7 and 8, have opted for zero tolerance and plan to abolish all gaming venues on their territory. The move must still be approved by Prague City Hall. There are currently nearly 300 gambling outlets in Prague, with more than fifty of them in Prague 8. In the coalition agreement, the ANO Party, the Social Democrats and the three-way coalition of Greens, Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents have pledged to introduce zero tolerance to gambling in Prague.
Czechs 15-16 year olds lead the rest of Europe for the percentage having tried marihuana, according a report released Thursday by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Forty-two percent of Czechs in that age group said they had tried ‘pot,’ a figure giving them a three percentage point lead on their French peers in the same age category. Around a third of Spanish students admitted smoking pot, putting them in third place. Young Czechs were also among the top users of ecstasy with around three percent saying they had popped a pill in the last year, around twice the European average.
The police confiscated close to 600 kilograms of marihuana and over 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in raids on illegal plantations and secret home labs in the course of last year, according to the annual report of the National Anti-Drug Office. The illegal drugs business is largely in the hands of foreign gangs, mainly Vietnamese, Albanian, Nigerian and Turkish nationals, the report says. Czechs are mostly involved in the home production of crystal methamphetamine. The number of secret marihuana plantations uncovered by the police rose to over 300 last year. Marihuana and crystal methamphetamine are the most commonly used illegal drugs in the Czech Republic. While marihuana grown in the Czech Republic is mainly for the home market, crystal methamphetamine is often smuggled to neighbouring Austria and Germany.
The Ministry of Finance is making concessions to the lobbying from betting companies, the global corruption watchdog Transparency International and Občané proti hazardu public association announced on Thursday. The ministry has reportedly softened the draft lottery law, leaving out certain measures for protecting gamblers and cancelling limits on the number of gambling venues and the amount a person can win or lose. The head of Transparency International, David Ondráčka, said the ministry should return to the original draft of the legislation. The Finance Ministry has denied the accusations.
City councillors in the spa town of Teplice have failed for a third time to pass a bylaw on the regulation of gambling terminals. The town, according to the Czech News Agency, has some 1,500 such machines, twice that of Ústí nad Labem or Most. Members of Town Hall have been tasked with coming up with a proposal which would satisfy a majority of 27 representatives. The bylaw should be passed by the end of the year.
A consignment of bananas containing around 100 kilograms of cocaine was found in Lidl supermarket in Prague’s Zbraslav district on Wednesday, the website TN.cz reported on Thursday. The information has been confirmed by the spokesperson for the National Anti-drug headquarters, Barbora Kudláčková. The fruit is believed to have been sent from Columbia in what was apparently a mistake by the traffickers. The police have introduced special measures concerning all cargos arriving from South America. The amount is estimated to have a street value of around 1.0 bllion crowns.
Plans to tap domestic supplies of medicinal cannabis have hit a problem after the Czech competition office opened an investigation into the tender for suppliers, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday. The probe follows a complaint by one of the unsuccessful bidders in the tender staged late last year to grow and supply cannabis. Medicinal cannabis is currently being offered on prescription in the Czech Republic with supplies shipped in from abroad and with costs several times higher than they would be for the homegrown product, the paper reports. The competition office says its investigation could take two months or longer.
Bavarian police say they intercepted 15 kilogrammes of pervitin which traffickers tried to pass across the Czech border last year. That total is down by half compared with the total intercepted in 2013, but around the same levels as 2012. But German police say the intensity of drugs being shipped across the border has not diminished. Rather, the hike in pervitin seizures in 2013 resulted from a massive police clampdown on trafficking that year.