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  Spain To Allow Doctors To Prescribe Cannabis
Posted by CN Staff on February 05, 2005 at 19:09:03 PT
By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid 
Source: Independent UK 

medical In a bold venture that puts Spain at the forefront of the medical use of cannabis in Europe, 60 pharmacies and four hospitals in Catalonia are to prescribe marijuana for therapeutic use where other treatments have failed.

The pioneering scheme surpasses measures taken by the Dutch, leaders in the field, and puts British efforts in the shade. A British drug company has been denied permission to produce medicinal cannabis for trials - because of lack of political will, critics say.

Doctors in Catalonia will be able to prescribe cannabis in capsules or as an infusion to help four specific conditions: anorexia among Aids patients; nausea caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients; constant pain - including migraine - that has been unresponsive to other treatments; and muscular problems among those with multiple sclerosis. About 150,000 patients are expected to benefit.

Spain's Health Minister, Elena Salgado, said she accepted that cannabis "has some therapeutic value". She approved "the controlled use of tablets in specific cases and under medical supervision", but insisted on the need to fight drug addiction. Spanish health policy is devolved to the regions, but must receive Madrid's blessing.

Catalan doctors back the scheme, so long as cannabis use is carefully controlled. "Prescriptions must be made under medical supervision, and only in extreme cases ... It's a humane response to understandable demand for an improved quality of life," said Guillermo Sierra, president of Barcelona's medical council.

"We must ensure the therapeutic use of cannabis is not treated frivolously among the young," he added. "We don't want to give the impression we support smoking joints, or that cannabis is good for you."

The pilot project, which begins next month - initially for a year - stems from a proposal by Barcelona's College of Pharmacists, following a similar experiment in the Netherlands in 2003, although that has just 8,000 patients.

The plan was agreed by Catalonia's left-wing regional government, a coalition of socialists, Greens and independent republicans. The initiative, due to be approved by the Spanish Health Ministry after more than a year of strenuous lobbying, is expected to prompt Spain's other autonomous regions to adopt similar measures.

Complete Title: Spain's Health Ministry To Allow Doctors To Prescribe Cannabis

Source: Independent (UK)
Author: Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Published: February 6, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.

Related Articles:

Spain To Test Cannabis as Aid for Patients

Catalonia Plans Cannabis Prescriptions

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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 06, 2005 at 22:54:16 PT
News Article from
Patients Prefer To Smoke Up at Cafés

Stephanie van den Berg

Februaey 7, 2005

With legal cannabis readily available, the Dutch government's program 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 "coffeeshops", the Dutch government set up a program 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 program the Dutch Minister of Health Hans Hoogervorst calculated in December last year that the program generated a loss of almost €400 000 ($520 000) in 2004.

Of the estimated 10 000 to 15 000 patients who use cannabis for medical reasons, only 1000 and 1500 people have taken part in the medical cannabis program. The health ministry scaled down its expected yearly sales from between 200 and 400 kilos of marijuana to just 70kg.

The government will not yet term the program 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," Bas Kuik, spokesman for the government regulated Bureau of Medical Cannabis (BMC), said.

Price Is The Issue:

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 program.

"Problem number one is the price. Medical marijuana is sold at some nine euros a gram while in a normal coffeeshop you can get a gram of cannabis at €4.50 to €5," 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 in the Netherlands since the 1970s and the sale allowed through authorised bars known as coffeeshops. Sales are limited to 5g 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 90 gram a month prescription like Burton has for his glaucoma costs over €800. 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.


Copyright: 2005

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by ekim on February 06, 2005 at 20:48:11 PT
tear down the wall
condee can pack the bowl and pass the peace pipe to two male humans who have seen the most sorrfull images that one could ever ever want to witness.

why with all the records that have been kept and the holy places that are still intact why oh why is there no mention of the hemp plant and how it was helping the people.

uh uh uh did you see the frighten ones.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #7 posted by Telarus on February 06, 2005 at 17:29:19 PT:

Found this quite interesting considering the relationship between the US and Israel, also kind of disturbing. -------------------------------------------------

The IDF will soon begin using cannabis to treat soldiers suffering from combat stress, the military said Wednesday.

An army statement said the military medical corps and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem would begin treating victims of post-traumatic stress - commonly known as shell shock - with THC, the active ingredient in the cannabis plant. It said the treatment would begin on an experimental basis.

"The use of THC as part of the treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was approved by military and civilian committees relevant to the subject," the statement said.

An IDF spokesman said treatment would be given to both conscript soldiers and reservists.

Since September 2000, the Israeli military has been conducting day to day operations against the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

During that time many soldiers have been treated for combat stress following service at military checkpoints and in military operations.

The IDF continues to ban the use of all drugs on a leisure basis, including cannabis derivatives marijuana and hashish.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #6 posted by global_warming on February 06, 2005 at 15:21:23 PT
Go Spain
Spain will somehow get on that axis of evil list..somehow.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 06, 2005 at 10:25:58 PT
About This Article
It makes me very happy that some countries are finally seeing that Cannabis is good medicine. Now we need for our country to see what is the truth. Maybe they will see soon. I believe in always keeping my eyes on the prize. The prize here on CNews is changing the laws concerning this ancient medicinal herb. I know that Angel's case is coming up soon and we sure don't know how it will go. There is no stopping this movement because if they shut one door it angers so many people that a firestorm erupts and we rally together and start all over again.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 06, 2005 at 09:05:30 PT
Those articles are about drugs. I would love to see a good article about's issue which is cannabis only! Drug articles really upset me. Thanks in advance.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on February 06, 2005 at 09:01:11 PT:

Unrelated: A bomshell has been dropped in

*Cites Racial Profiling: Chasing of Black Man 'Psychological Detention,' Court Says

MONTREAL - A lawyer who won a precedent-setting drug case on the grounds that her black client was a victim of racial profiling encouraged other Quebec defence lawyers yesterday to follow her lead.*

Expect some major shrieks and howls from the anti quarter in short order...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on February 06, 2005 at 08:49:14 PT:

Unrelated: Another voice of reason

Mr. Krawitz touches on a great many of the themes about what's wrong with drug prohibition deftly and with an eye to the latent hypocrisy of officialdom. Highly recommended, so says I.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by rchandar on February 06, 2005 at 07:57:41 PT:

this is good news...'s been a while--too long, i think, since Europe has been moving forward on cannabis issues. I'm glad to see this article.


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