Dutch Government Faces Marijuana Glut

  Dutch Government Faces Marijuana Glut

Posted by CN Staff on October 12, 2004 at 11:11:26 PT
By Maria Lokshin, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press  

Amsterdam, Netherlands -- There's a whiff of crisis in the air at the Dutch Health Ministry: It's sitting on a pile of pot that it just can't sell. The Netherlands rolled out a program last year that allows patients to buy prescription marijuana at any pharmacy. Some medical insurance policies cover at least part of the cost, but often not enough to offset the pharmacy price. In a country where any adult can walk into a "coffee shop" and smoke a joint for much less than the government price, many say the experiment is a bust.
"I think it's a shame that they can't deliver a cannabis product a little bit cheaper than the coffee shops," said David Watson, head of Hortapharm, an Amsterdam-based company licensed to research and develop cannabis for pharmaceutical use. "Why is it that a legal commodity is more expensive than an illegal commodity?"The government says packaging and distribution push up its prices, and acknowledges its program may be foundering. Of some 450 pounds in anticipated sales, only about 175 pounds have been sold, said Bas Kuik, spokesman for the Office of Medicinal Cannabis, an arm of the Dutch Ministry of Health.The government sells two varieties ranging from about $10 to $12 a gram - enough for up to four joints. Coffee shops sell it for as little as $5 a gram, with only the highest-quality weed fetching prices comparable to the government's.Under the liberal Dutch approach dating to the 1970s, the law forbids privately growing and selling marijuana, and has no tolerance for dealing in hard drugs, but refrains from prosecuting the sale of small amounts.The medicinal program allows pharmacies to sell standardized, quality-controlled marijuana from authorized growers to sufferers of chronic or terminal diseases such as multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, neuralgia, cancer and Tourette's syndrome.The competition comes from hundreds of marijuana bars, thinly disguised as "coffee shops" to maintain the fiction of legality. Though patronized mostly by recreational smokers and tourists, people in pain who find relief from cannabis are also customers, paying less than they would to a pharmacy.Erik Bosman, manager of the Dampkring coffee shop, says many of his regulars are medical patients, and he even used to offer discounts for people with prescriptions.At midday in the Dampkring, off one of Amsterdam's busiest shopping streets, dozens of mostly young people sit in a haze of smoke, sipping soft drinks, smoking prepackaged joints or rolling their own. A scene was shot here for the movie "Ocean's Twelve," and pictures of George Clooney and Brad Pitt with the staff hang on the wall.The menu, with 23 types of marijuana and 18 of hashish, carries a "fair smoke" assurance that the cannabis is organically grown.But many coffee shops are dingy, unappealing hangouts that hardly inspire a feeling of pharmaceutical confidence, and some seriously ill people will pay more for guaranteed quality, especially if it's covered by insurance.One of two legal marijuana growers for the government program is James Burton, an American who immigrated after spending a year in a U.S. prison for growing marijuana to fight glaucoma. He founded the Stichting Institute of Medical Marijuana in Rotterdam, and for more than a decade sold pot directly to as many as 1,500 patients. He estimates about 10,000 people in the Netherlands use it for medical reasons.In 2001 he signed an exclusive contract to provide the government program with cannabis. But the five-year agreement was terminated prematurely after he talked about it on Dutch television and was accused by the government of breaking a confidentiality clause."I finally had to come out publicly," Burton told The Associated Press. "The program's not working. They have less than 1,000 patients." he suggested the conservative coalition, which replaced the more liberal government that created the program, was not promoting it."The whole country is leaning to the right," he said. "I think a year from now this program's gone."Kuik, the official, confirmed the program is up for review early next year.Source: Associated Press Author: Maria Lokshin, Associated Press WriterPublished:  October 12, 2004Copyright: 2004 The Associated Press Related Articles: Medical Marijuana Sold in the Netherlands To Prescribe Cannabis for Pain Marijuana Goes on Sale in Pharmacies Makes Cannabis a Prescription Drug 

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Comment #11 posted by Ferre on October 17, 2004 at 12:25:00 PT
Crappy weed and a crappy program
The project was bound to fail from day one.Instead of listening to the patients and organisations who had been supplying the Dutch medical cannabis users since years before it was legally recognized, the Dutch government excluded those organisations and the years of expertise they could have been given and set up a distributing and growing system completely government controlled and under their own made rules.Now we see the results and the medical users do not want the cannabis provided by 'the state'. It's simply not good enough, a very poor quality, and much too expensive.What we see today is that medical cannabis users grow their own or buy it in coffeeshops or via the few non government controlled medical cannabis organisation who are now in fact, illegal.Ferre van BeverenAmsterdam,Steering committee member; 
Cannabis Ministry Amsterdam
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Comment #10 posted by kaptinemo on October 13, 2004 at 13:41:43 PT:
The best translator program I know onWeb
Is SYSTRAN: I did the (colloquial!) Dutch from memory, and may not have gotten it exactly right, but one thing about the Dutch is they are very supportive of your efforts to learn their language, and quickly forgive any goofs.I have used SYSTRAN in international chat rooms like DrugSenseChat with reform people around the planet whose English was sparse or non-existant, and have been able to hold a half-way decent (if somewhat slow) conversation. It's prone to literalness, but you can be understood. 
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Comment #9 posted by Dark Star on October 13, 2004 at 11:38:18 PT
Spanish:Senores, me gustaria un poco de su canamo, por favor.French:Messieurs, je voudrais un peu de votre chanvre, s'il vous plait.
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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on October 13, 2004 at 10:45:39 PT
Kaptinemo, you should write a tourist guide
Gentlemen I'd like some of your weed please.I'd like to have that translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese, please. :-)
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Comment #7 posted by kaptinemo on October 13, 2004 at 07:27:32 PT:
We should all have the Dutch gvmnt's problems
A glut, huh? Jeez.Mijneeren! Ik wil graag enkele van Uw wiet, alstublijft! (Gentlemen! I'd like some of your weed, please!)
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Comment #6 posted by ekim on October 12, 2004 at 20:35:47 PT
Maria Parra please go on Montels TV Show 
Journal Gazette (09 Oct 2004)WASHINGTON - Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, hasn't done enough to change the
federal government's policy about financial aid for college students who
have drug convictions, Democratic congressional candidate Maria Parra said
Friday.Parra, who hopes to beat the five-term incumbent, said denying grants or
scholarships to people who have been convicted of using or selling drugs
does not help people with drug problems."If anything," she said, "the law perpetuates the cycle of addiction and
denies aid to those who need it most."An amendment Souder authored six years ago put restrictions on who can
receive government aid to attend college.Souder said the Clinton and Bush administrations interpreted the rule too
restrictively, leading to the limitation or denial of aid to anyone who had
previously been convicted of drug offenses.Souder said he intended his provision to apply to students who were already
enrolled in college.A bill he sponsored last year included a provision to encourage the
Department of Education to stop making it difficult for some college
students to receive financial aid.The House passed the bill, but the Senate has not.Parra called this effort "too little too late."The provision says students who are convicted of drug offenses can't get
federal scholarships or loans for one or two years, or, after three
convictions, ever."I believe people change," Souder has said numerous times when asked about
the provision. He said it doesn't make sense to penalize a former drug user
or seller who is trying to improve his or her life.The Department of Education has said about 20,000 people have been
ineligible for financial aid in the past three academic years because of
prior drug convictions.In the past two academic years, about 15,000 others refused to answer a
question about whether they have a drug conviction; those people also are
ineligible for aid.Parra said "150,000 would-be students have been denied aid" since 2000.She said the rule "disproportionately affects minority students who have
higher drug conviction rates than whites."Officials in Washington like Congressman Souder should not create obstacles
for students to better their lives through education. They should help
create opportunities, not extinguish them."Although Souder has often said that the Education Department is enforcing
the rule more harshly than he intended, Parra said "the truth is that Rep.
Souder is only responding to political pressure to repeal his own misguided
policy."Souder and Parra are competing in the Nov. 2 congressional election. The
winner will represent northeast Indiana in Congress for the next two years.----------------------------------------------------------------------------
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
Pubdate: Sat, 9 Oct 2004
Source: Journal Gazette, The (IN)
Copyright: 2004 The Journal Gazette
Contact: letters
Author: Sylvia A. Smith, Washington editor
Bookmark: (Students - United States
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Comment #5 posted by Max Flowers on October 12, 2004 at 19:44:52 PT
Thanks man, well no big businesses, just "cottage industries" similar to the one at issue... just common sense I guess. Hopefully it will serve me in some future biz...
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Comment #4 posted by JustGetnBy on October 12, 2004 at 16:05:43 PT
  DITTO... You sound like a man who may have managed a few
succesfull ventures.                 GoodOnYaMate
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Comment #3 posted by Max Flowers on October 12, 2004 at 15:14:09 PT
Dutch gov't medpot dealers (I like the sound of th
at!Seems to me the Dutch government should sell its overstock to the shops at a very fair wholesale price if it doesn't want to store it very long. Then they should scale back their buying until they get more savvy about the market and can buy/sell according to their understanding.
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Comment #2 posted by OverwhelmSam on October 12, 2004 at 12:48:27 PT
Off Topic, But...
I just had to make mention of this story. Seems Souder might be fired for provisions he inserted into the Higher Education Act. I just think that's great!CHALLENGER ATTACKS SOUDER LAW ON DRUGS, COLLEGE AID
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 12, 2004 at 12:25:58 PT
It's Too Expensive
How much Cannabis costs will always control where people purchase it. Money doesn't grow on trees. I always wished it did but it doesn't. It's a weed that would grow wild if it could. Then weed control would be the problem. I'm just kidding on my last remark.
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