Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Hits the Shelves in Dutch Pharmacies 3/21/03

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As of Monday, medical marijuana in the Netherlands began moving from the coffee shop to the pharmacist's shelves, as a new law allowing druggists to fill medical marijuana prescriptions and patients to have the cost covered by insurance went into effect.

"The health minister said, look, doctors are prescribing marijuana to their patients anyway, and there are many medicinal users, so we may as well regulate it," Bas Kuik, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Health, told the Associated Press. Kuik added that the Dutch government will license several official growers later this year, but meanwhile, pharmacies will have to act on their own to get marijuana.

That does not present a large problem, however, since, there already exists at least one company, Maripharm (, that reports supplying at least 600 Dutch pharmacies with "Medical Grade Marijuana." According to Maripharm, its product comes "standardized, vacuum-packed and bearing patient information and dose advice." Maripharm mediweed goes for about $225 an ounce at the Dam Pharmacy in central Amsterdam, the AP reported.

Although Maripharm has not received a waiver from the Dutch government to grow its medical marijuana, the Dutch authorities have, in their inimitable fashion, turned a blind eye to the company's activities, much as they allow the technically illegal sale of cannabis in the country's famous coffee shops.

The law bringing medical marijuana into the drug stores was actually passed by the Dutch parliament in 2001, but didn't go into effect until this week. While the Netherlands follows Canada in formally sanctioning medical marijuana, it is the first nation to incorporate the herb into its standard prescription drug regulation system.

Meanwhile, in the US, Attorney General Ashcroft sends armed paramilitary SWAT teams after patients and providers.

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Issue #279, 3/21/03 New York City Mayor Bloomberg Backs Needle Exchange, But Where's the Money? | Medical Marijuana Update: Bills Killed in Arkansas, Wyoming But Moving Forward in Maryland, Vermont, Bad Bill Introduced in Oregon | UN Says Colombian Coca Cultivation Down 30 Percent, Overall Production Down, Too -- Experts Say Not Really | Newsbrief: Marco Cappato in Jail for British Marijuana Civil Disobedience | Newsbrief: Mexican Governor Candidate Says Legalize Drugs | Newsbrief: Guardian Newspaper Calls on Britons to Promote Home Grows, Not Prosecute Them | Newsbrief: Vancouver Ponders "Safe Smoking Materials" for Crack Users | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana Hits the Shelves in Dutch Pharmacies | Newsbrief: New Jersey Bans Racial Profiling | Newsbrief: NJ Weedman Sues Comcast, Asks $420,000 | Newsbrief: House Republicans Hold Off on Subpoena of Federal Judge | Newsbrief: Informant Nailed for Fake Ecstasy Scam | The Reformer's Calendar

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