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Czech MPs vote to legalize marijuana for medical use

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech lawmakers voted on Friday to allow marijuana and drugs derived from it to be available on prescription from pharmacies from next year, extending narcotics laws which permit possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin and cocaine.

Only imported marijuana will be available for the first year, after which the central European country's State Institute for Drug Control will allot licenses to local growers.

"The point of the proposal is to make medical marijuana accessible to patients that need it and that already use it today, even when it is against the law," said Pavel Bem, one of a group of deputies who created the bill.

The central European country already lets the public grow, possess, and consume - but not sell - small amounts of most illicit drugs and considers the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana as legal.

It also tolerates the use of recreational drugs in pubs and clubs, and the sight of people rolling and smoking marijuana joints in public and outside pubs is common.

Czech lawmakers were told how the use of marijuana can help some people with debilitating medical conditions. The upper house Senate is expected to approve the bill, which needs to be signed by the president.

(Reporting by Jana Mlcochova and Robert Mueller; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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