Netherlands Makes Cannabis a Prescription Drug

Netherlands Makes Cannabis a Prescription Drug
Posted by CN Staff on August 31, 2003 at 10:55:49 PT
By Paul Gallagher
Source: Reuters 
Amsterdam -- The Netherlands will this week become the world's first country to make cannabis available as a prescription drug in pharmacies to treat chronically ill patients, a top Dutch health official said on Sunday.The Dutch government has given the country's 1,650 pharmacies the green light to sell cannabis to sufferers of cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis (MS) and Tourette's Syndrome in a ground-breaking acceptance of the drug's medicinal use.
"It's a historic step. What is unique is that we are making it available on a prescription only basis through pharmacies," said Willem Scholten, head of the Office of Medicinal Cannabis at the Dutch Health Ministry.The Netherlands, where prostitution and the sale of cannabis in coffee shops are regulated by the government, has a history of pioneering social reforms. It was also the first country to legalise euthanasia.The government, which recognised many chronically ill people were already buying cannabis from coffee shops, said it should only be prescribed by doctors when conventional treatments had been exhausted or if other drugs had side effects.Two companies in the Netherlands have been given licences to grow special strains of cannabis in laboratory-style conditions to sell to the Health Ministry, which in turn packages and labels the drug in small tubs to supply to pharmacies.The Health Ministry recommends patients dilute the cannabis -- which will be in the form of dried marijuana flowers from the hemp plant rather its hashish resin -- in tea or turn it into a spray in a nebulizer.As well as pharmacies, 80 hospitals and 400 doctors will be allowed to dispense five gram doses of SIMM18 medical marijuana for 44 euros ($48) a tub and more potent Bedrocan at 50 euros.MONOPOLY The government will start distributing to pharmacies on Monday with a monopoly over wholesale of the drug.Dutch doctors will be allowed to prescribe it to treat chronic pain, nausea and loss of appetite in cancer and HIV patients, to alleviate MS sufferers spasm pains and reduce physical or verbal tics in people suffering Tourette's syndrome.The ministry estimates up to 7,000 people in the Netherlands have used cannabis for medical reasons, buying it in coffee shops. It said this could more than double once it is available from pharmacies in pure medical form.Cannabis has a long history of medical use. It was used as a Chinese herbal remedy around 5,000 years ago, while Britain's Queen Victoria is said to have taken cannabis tincture for menstrual pains.But it fell out of favour because of lack of standardised preparations and the development of more potent synthetic drugs.Critics argue it has not passed sufficient scientific scrutiny at a time when researchers are trying to determine if it confers the medical benefits many users claim. Some doctors say it increases the risk of depression and schizophrenia.The use of cannabis for medical reasons has proved contentious in many other countries.In July, Canada granted hundreds of seriously ill patients a dispensation from criminal law to buy the drug after a plan for the government to grow medical marijuana was put on hold. The United States upheld a federal ban on medical marijuana in 2001."It's the first time it has ever been done in the world. The Dutch are pretty compassionate and tolerant," said James Burton, director of the Institute of Medical Marijuana, one of the two companies licensed to grow the drug for medical use in the Netherlands."No one would say that a dying patient or someone in a wheelchair should not take cannabis to alleviate pain," he said. Source: Reuters Author: Paul GallagherPublished: August 31, 2003Copyright: 2003 Reuters News ServiceRelated Articles:Chemists To Sell Medical Cannabis Now Legal in Dutch Pharmacies Could Teach Us A Lot About Marijuana
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on September 02, 2003 at 10:18:29 PT
I believe I understand what you mean. Maybe I'm just a little crazy to hope that people can learn to be rational. Yup, I must be! Seriously when people take the time to think about serious issues many will start to get it but our society keeps everyone running and that way they don't have time to think and that is sad. People need to stop and think sometimes.
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on September 02, 2003 at 06:46:04 PT:
FoM, to answer your post
They'll just stick their fingers further into their ears (as long as they've been doing this, they should be touching, by now) and scream all the louder that it doesn't have any medical uses...and continue to insult the intelligence of everyone whose IQ is above room temperature.Antis tempt me to almost believe in eugenics...just think how far we as a species might have gone if we didn't have to haul the knuckledraggers along with us, taking up valuable time and impeding progress with their kicking and screaming and dragging their heels, demanding we all accept their superstitions and lies at face value and not challenge them.Heinlein was right when he said "Man is a rationalizing animal, not a rational one." The antis prove him right every time they open their mouths. 
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on August 31, 2003 at 17:03:14 PT
Canadian Bacon...
Sorry if this has already been seems the newly formed CPPA(Canadian Professional Police Association) is using it's clout to persuade federal pol's not to soften Canada's cannabis laws. I would think that these cops would be pushing for "recriminalization" since cannabis possession is already legal in Ontario & according to some - all of Canada!NEW POLICE ASSOCIATION TO FLEX MUSCLE: live Mike Ruppert!!!FTW's National Ad Campaign Updates(scroll down to view ad):
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on August 31, 2003 at 14:57:23 PT
Prohibionist, Forest Tennant gives Us a hand.
US GA: OPED: Altered Minds: Former Drug Warriors Turn Against (PROHIBITION) MINDS: FORMER DRUG WARRIORS TURN AGAINST PROHIBITION In the 1980s, not many people could plausibly claim stronger anti-drug credentials than Nancy Reagan. But Forest Tennant could. "It's great for the Reagans to get up and say, 'Let's do something about the drug problem,' but I don't know who's going to do it," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. "Only true professional people like myself can do very much with the drug problem." The remark was characteristically haughty, but Tennant had the training, experience, and reputation to back it up. A physician and researcher with a doctorate in public health, he operated a chain of drug treatment clinics in California and was widely cited and consulted as an expert on drug abuse and addiction. Tennant has published hundreds of scientific articles, testified in high-profile trials, and advised the NFL, NASCAR, the California Highway Patrol, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Times described him as "riding at the forefront of the current wave of anti-drug sentiment." So when the folks at the Hoover Institution who produce the PBS show "Uncommon Knowledge" were looking for someone to debate drug policy with me, Tennant must have seemed like a natural choice. Imagine their surprise when he ended up agreeing that the war on drugs has been a disastrous mistake. To be sure, Tennant is not completely comfortable with the idea of treating all psychoactive substances the way we treat alcohol. Among other things, he worries about underage access and legal liability issues. But Tennant concedes that only a small percentage of drug users become addicted, that the drug laws are not very effective at preventing abuse, and that any increase in addiction that follows the repeal of prohibition is apt to be small. Equally important, he has come to realize after decades of dealing with addiction that the war on drugs imposes tremendous costs in exchange for its dubious benefits. Tennant says the Sept. 11 attacks had a big impact on his thinking about drug policy. He recognized that the connection between drugs and terrorism, cited by the government to justify the war on drugs, was actually a consequence of prohibition, which makes the drug trade a highly lucrative business and delivers it into the hands of criminals. "We've got to take the profit out of it," he says. Tennant is also troubled by the impact that U.S. drug policy has on countries such as Colombia, where it empowers thugs and guerrillas, sows violence, undermines law and order, and wreaks havoc on the economy. And he believes the war on drugs has fostered systemic corruption in the United States. "We need to try something different," he says. As a first step, Tennant would like to see states experiment with various approaches to drug policy, including decriminalization of marijuana, a drug he considers much less dangerous than the government claims. He thinks it plausible that in 15 years Americans will be able to purchase pot legally. This is the same man who made waves in the 1980s by promoting a home eye test kit to help parents detect and deter drug use by their children. Parents were supposed to administer the test every few days, beginning when their kids were about 7. No one could have accused Forest Tennant of being soft on drugs. Tennant is by no means the only former drug warrior who has become a critic of current policy. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( LEAP ), founded last year, includes more than 400 current and former police officers, judges, federal agents, prosecutors, and parole, probation, and corrections officers. The group is headed by Jack Cole, a 26-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police who worked in narcotics enforcement for 14 years. "After three decades of fueling the U.S. war on drugs with over half a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies," says LEAP, "illicit drugs are easier to get, cheaper, and more potent than they were 30 years ago. While our court system is choked with ever-increasing drug prosecutions, our quadrupled prison population has made building prisons this nation's fastest growing industry. ... Meanwhile people are dying in our streets and drug barons grow richer than ever before. We must change these policies." As an attorney quoted in a recent Seattle Weekly article about LEAP observed, "The news story is not that the war on drugs has failed. It's who's saying it now." 
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Comment #2 posted by E_Johnson on August 31, 2003 at 12:05:51 PT
Journalists like to make things up don't they
There are many facts in this article to be sure, but I see that when the reporter is reaching for an explanation of something the reporter doesn't know, the reporter makes something up on the spot that sounds plausible.The number of medical cannabis users should double once cannabis is available in "pure medical form" -- hahahahaha"Pure medical form" --- that may sound impressive and authoritative to someone who doesn't know anything about cannabis, but people who use medical cannabis know exactly where Paul Gallagher got the idea of a "pure medical form" for cannabis -- HE PULLED IT OUT OF HIS OWN BEHIND!Pardon my French. The bud dispensed by the pharmacies is the same as the bud dispensed by the coffee shops. But the reporter cannot resolve the illogical inconsistency of that situation, so the reporter pulls new facts from the fact machine in his behind to cover up for the system.Journalists do this a lot. The story doesn't make sense because marijuana policy doesn't make sense, so journalists invent their own little facts and explanations so that their story makes sense, and thus the public is lulled into believing things are really making sense in Cannabis Prohibition Land.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 31, 2003 at 11:04:55 PT
Cannabis Has Medicinal Properties
I hope antis from the USA see this article and maybe understand.
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