Cannabis News The November Coalition
  Dutch Patients Prefer Cannabis Cafés To Pharmacies
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2005 at 07:48:43 PT
By Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague  
Source: Mail and Guardian 

medical With legal cannabis readily available, the Dutch government's programme for issuing medical marijuana through pharmacies is losing money as stocks pile up because patients seem to prefer buying their stash at authorised cannabis cafés.

Even though cannabis use is decriminalised and marijuana is widely available in hundreds of cannabis cafés known as coffee shops, the Dutch government set up a programme for medical marijuana in September 2001.

It cited studies showing that marijuana can be used to reduce nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to reduce tension in glaucoma patients and to improve the appetite of people infected with HIV or suffering from Aids.

The idea was that patients would prefer a prescription from the pharmacy with a guaranteed strength and quality than take their chances in the commercial coffeeshops but it didn't work out that way.

After a year and a half of the groundbreaking programme, the Dutch Minister of Health Hans Hoogervorst calculated in December last year that the programme generated a loss of almost 400 000 euros ($520 000) in 2004.

Of the estimated 10 000 to 15 000 patients who use cannabis for medical reasons, only 1 000 and 1 500 people have taken part in the medical cannabis programme. The health ministry scaled down its expected yearly sales from between 200kg and 400kg of marijuana to just 70kg.

The government will not yet term the programme a failure but said it is being re-evaluated and a decision on how to proceed would be taken after the summer.

"It appears that doctors are not prescribing as much as we had estimated based on studies," said Bas Kuik, a spokesperson for the government regulated Bureau of Medical Cannabis (BMC).

To James Burton, who was one of the two officially recognised growers of medical marijuana until the government ended its contract with him this year, it is clear what is holding back the programme.

"Problem number one is the price. Medical marijuana is sold at some nine euros a gram while in a normal coffee shop you can get a gram of cannabis at 4,5 to 5 euros," Burton said.

"There is a market out there, just not at this price."

The American knows what he's talking about. As a glaucoma patient he uses marijuana to ease tension.

He was jailed in the US for growing the herb before he moved to The Netherlands in 1991.

"I thought I was in nirvana" because of the liberal Dutch policies on soft drugs, he said.

The use of cannabis has been decriminalised here since the 1970s and the sale allowed through authorised bars known as coffee shops.

Sales are limited to five grams a person and growing marijuana is forbidden.

One of the problems for patients related to the price of medical marijuana is that the Dutch national health service does not reimburse prescriptions and there are only a few private health insurers that do.

At the prices the government charges a 90g a month prescription like Burton has for his glaucoma costs more than 800 euros.

This is simply too much for most patients.

Kuik insisted that the BMC does not make any money from the medical marijuana and explained the mark-up was necessary because of tax, research, sterilisation, packaging and logistics.

He pointed to a possible other reason for the unpopularity of the medical marijuana.

"The medical cannabis is made to be inhaled in a steam treatment or infused and drunk like tea and not for smoking. Maybe that is a disappointment for people expecting to smoke it but of course the ministry of health cannot encourage smoking," he said. - Sapa-AFP

Source: Mail and Guardian (South Africa)
Author: Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague
Published: February 07, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Mail & Guardian
Contact: letters@mg.co.za
Website: http://www.mg.co.za/mg/

Related Articles:

Dutch Government Faces Marijuana Glut
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread19630.shtml

Medical Marijuana Sold in the Netherlands
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread17201.shtml

Dutch To Prescribe Cannabis for Pain
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread17200.shtml


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Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 23, 2005 at 13:50:08 PT
Dutch To Ban Drug Tourists from Coffee Shops
By Wendel Broere

May 20, 2005

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands, May 20 (Reuters) - Tourists hoping to buy a cannabis joint in Dutch coffee shops could be in for a rude awakening this year under a test plan to curb drug tourism.

Soft drugs are legally banned in the Netherlands but under its policy of "tolerance", people are allowed to have less than 5 grammes of cannabis in their possession. Government-regulated coffee shops can hold a stock of up to 500 grammes.

"We are developing a system whereby people not registered in the Netherlands will not be allowed into coffee shops," Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes said. A pilot project will start up in Maastricht, on the southern tip of the Netherlands.

"We want to do this to combat drugs tourism and should be able to start the project this summer," he said.

Maastricht, bordering Germany and Belgium, attracts the largest number of tourists in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, many of them French, Germans and Belgians on short breaks.

They include an estimated 1.5 million drug tourists, the city's Mayor Gerd Leers said on Friday at a conference on tackling the cross-border soft drugs problem.

Some 400,000 cannabis smokers live in the Netherlands, where they can openly buy and smoke the drug, to the ire of neighbouring countries. The Dutch population is 16 million.

The centre-right government now wants to curb drugs tourism, in part due to pressure from its European partners.

The number of coffee shops has been cut to 754 nationwide in 2003 from 1,200 in 1997, according to the latest figures from the Netherlands Trimbos institute for addiction studies.

The government also hopes to stub out the illegal growing of hemp plants and sale of soft drugs by criminal groups.

"As member of parliament in The Hague, I thought it was possible to get rid of cannabis by taking hard measures. But after having been mayor of Maastricht for three years I see that it does not work," Leers said.

WATER BED EFFECT

"It's a 'water bed effect' if you push down on one part the problems pop up somewhere else," he said.

He said the tough approach did not work, likening it to the prohibition of alcohol in the United States in the 1920s, which he said was a "a textbook example of a failed experiment in social engineering".

Maastricht, which has about a dozen authorised coffee shops, is discussing details of the pilot with the Justice Ministry, which could involve user registration and identification.

But coffee shops fear the rules will create more problems and chase buyers into the illegal circuit.

"If coffee shops have to carry out controls at the door, people who don't want to register will turn to the illegal circuit. We think nuisance will only increase," the chairman of the association of official coffee shops of Maastricht, Marc Josemans, told the conference.

"Legalise it," was his suggestion.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1923446.htm

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #10 posted by Hope on February 07, 2005 at 12:57:54 PT
Afterburner
You said, "Why is it that politicians, federal and otherwise, can repeal the *crime* of driving between 55 mph and 65 mph and not be afraid of being called "soft on crime," but when it comes to cannabis reform, they scurry into the corners and hide their heads in the sand, hoping that their constituents will spare them from the chopping block? With popular support for medical cannabis over 70%, surely they can bend with the changing wind and let cannabis reform out of committees and onto the floors of Congress where it belongs."

I think the cowards are terrified of the monster they've created. Those people that they have made froth mouthed with their propaganda and those they have made rich and dangerous in the prison industrial complex and the industries that create police "toys", and certainly not least, the well armed and huge militarized enforcement groups they have created.

The infidels they would offend have big guns, big mouths (with sharp teeth), and lots of money.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #9 posted by Hope on February 07, 2005 at 12:45:31 PT
What could they have done to it
that would make it unsmokable?

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 07, 2005 at 11:05:29 PT
Breaking News: AARP
http://www.aarpmagazine.org/health/Articles/a2005-01-18-mag-marijuana.html

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #7 posted by afterburner on February 07, 2005 at 10:01:10 PT
That's Scotch-Drinking Pols, Not Scotch-Driving
We do know that a few politicians have been convicted of impaired driving, but surely not all of them.

Typo? Freudian slip? I retract the "Scotch-Driving Pols" title: no accusation about irresponsible alcohol use was intended!



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #6 posted by afterburner on February 07, 2005 at 09:46:44 PT
If the Scotch-Driving Pols Were Allowed Only Beer,
They might not want to follow the dictates of the "ministry of health."

Why other, than superstitious, political propaganda about being "tough on crime," is cannabis held to such a much higher standard than any other medicine, social lubricant, or activity? If cannabis were still legal, it would not *be* a crime to possess, sell or grow it. Therefore, "tough on crime" would not apply. "Tough on crime" is a circular argument: *it's a crime because it's a crime, and it should stay a crime because it is a crime.*

Duh! At one time driving over 55 mph was a crime, but evidence that increasing the speed limit did not increase accidents caused a re-evaluation of the *crime* and the limit was increased. Now, in some places driving between 55 mph and 65 mph is no longer a crime. If the logic of cannabis prohibition had been applied to speed limits, we would still be saddled with an unrealistically low 55 mph speed limit.

Why is it that politicians, federal and otherwise, can repeal the *crime* of driving between 55 mph and 65 mph and not be afraid of being called "soft on crime," but when it comes to cannabis reform, they scurry into the corners and hide their heads in the sand, hoping that their constituents will spare them from the chopping block? With popular support for medical cannabis over 70%, surely they can bend with the changing wind and let cannabis reform out of committees and onto the floors of Congress where it belongs. Otherwise, they will increasingly be targeted for replacement by an impatient constituency!

ego transcendence, the time is right; ego destruction by itself is leading us into a dead end.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 07, 2005 at 09:25:22 PT
Duzt
Thank you. I didn't know that.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #4 posted by Duzt on February 07, 2005 at 09:15:33 PT
cannabis and water
Although cannabis isn't water soluble, Cannabinoids are sticky enough that they do bond to the water molecules and are present in the tea, it's just much weaker. They did tests years back on delivery methods and water pipes were the least effecient losing around 30% of the THC due to the cannabinoids bonding to the water. I do make infusion teas as I am medical and have way too much lying around so I get creative with how I use it and the teas ahae a very mild effect. Tincture teas are much stronger but just infusing cannabis in hot water will work as well.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #3 posted by Deboche on February 07, 2005 at 09:10:04 PT
alternatives
I think cannabis tea works, as well as the poupular brownies

but vaporising is the healthiest way to "smoke" it, I think

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 07, 2005 at 08:42:51 PT
A Question
"The medical cannabis is made to be inhaled in a steam treatment or infused and drunk like tea and not for smoking. Maybe that is a disappointment for people expecting to smoke it but of course the ministry of health cannot encourage smoking," he said.

Cannabis isn't a water soluble herb so how would it help anyone.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by sam adams on February 07, 2005 at 08:08:33 PT
smoking
"The medical cannabis is made to be inhaled in a steam treatment or infused and drunk like tea and not for smoking. Maybe that is a disappointment for people expecting to smoke it but of course the ministry of health cannot encourage smoking," he said.

Of course! They can't encourage smoking, but they're happy to encourage you to destroy the lining of your digestive tract with NSAIDS. They'll glady encourage you to ingest toxic drugs for 30 or 40 years so that you'll have no liver or kidneys left.

This is further support for my position that the FDA, CSA, etc, etc, NEVER should have been passed. Give me herbs, drugs, and medicine totally unregulated by GOVERNMENT. Let Consumer Reports, or Public Citizen, or whomever, offer an independent drugs ratings service. They could charge $200 per year as a subscription to the service or something. It seems like Public Citizen is doing a better job at investigating drugs than the FDA, and probably for a lot less money. No taxpayer money at all, as a matter of fact.

There are several suppliers of excellent herbal tincture in the US that provide high quality medicine with absolutely no government regulation at all!! It's no surprise that in Canada and Holland the government has failed miserably to provide herbal medicine. No surprise at all.

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