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Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Paraplegic Sues Over Seizure of Plants, Grow Equipment

Leonard French followed New Mexico's medical marijuana law to the letter, but that didn't stop the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force from seizing his plants and grow equipment and giving it to the DEA. Now he's suing.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Scandal broadens in Brooklyn South, a cop working for a federal drug task force goes bad in California, and a pair of private prison guards in Texas get in trouble.

Law Enforcement: Virginia Narcotics Officer Killed Busting Down Door in Marijuana Grow Raid

A Chesapeake, Virginia, narcotics officer was killed last week as he attempted to break down a door during a raid on a suspected marijuana grow operation. His alleged killer now faces first degree murder charges.

Marijuana: After 30 Years, Nebraska Legislator Wants to Recriminalize

For 30 years, Nebraska has lived with marijuana decriminalization. Now, a state legislator wants to take the state back to the bad old days.

Marijuana: Sight of Someone Smoking a Joint Not Grounds for Home Search, California Appeals Court Rules

Because small-time marijuana possession is decriminalized in California, a state appeals court has ruled that even if police see you smoking a joint in your living room, they still can't search your place without a warrant -- unless you let them.

Africa: Marijuana "Tries to Destroy Our Society," Nigerian Head Narc Says

Nigeria's top narc warns of the evils of marijuana as he burns tons of the stuff, but it looks like he's fighting a losing battle.

Marijuana: Vermont to Consider Decriminalization, But Wants to Crack Down on Hard Drugs

A debate on drug policy is gathering steam in Vermont, where the legislature is set to ponder both marijuana decriminalization and harsher sentencing for some hard drug offenses.

Marijuana: Bill to Increase Penalties for Sales to Minors Moving in South Dakota

Giving or selling any amount of marijuana to a minor can get you 10 years in South Dakota, but now the state attorney general wants to increase those penalties for all but small amounts, and his bill is moving in the legislature.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The Detroit drug squad is under investigation, a Pennsylvania police chief is accused of stealing money from drug busts, and a Wisconsin prison has a problem with pill-stealing guards.

Canada: Marc Emery to Accept Canadian Prison Time on US Charges

Marc Emery, Canada's "Prince of Pot," announced this week that he has accepted a plea deal with US federal prosecutors that will spare his associates jail time but will see him do at least five years in prison -- mostly in Canada -- for selling marijuana seeds to customers in the US. The trio had faced mandatory minimums of 10 years and the possibility of life.

Middle East: The Poppies Blossom in Iraq

Caught in the middle of Iraq's simmering violence, Iraqi farmers are turning to the opium poppy to make a living. Militias and warlords are behind it, says British journalist Patrick Cockburn.

Feature: It's Safer to Be a Cop Than a Farmer

Police deaths in the line of duty were up last year, and so was the number of cops killed by gunfire. But only handful died enforcing the drug laws, and policing remains safer than a good number of other professions.

Salvia Divinorum: Virginia House Passes Ban

Joining a handful of other states, Illinois made salvia divinorum illegal as of January 1. Now, Virginia wants to be next. A bill to ban it has already passed the House of Delegates and is headed to the state Senate.

A Grand Total of Five Cops Died Fighting the Drug War Last Year

As the calendar flips over to a new year, law enforcement and the mass media have been trumpeting

Pain Medicine: Advocacy Group to Challenge Controlled Substances Act In Lawsuit Aimed at Protecting Physicians, Patients

The arrest and prosecution of a Kansas pain management physician and his nurse wife have prompted a leading pain advocacy group to file a lawsuit challenging the application of the Controlled Substance Act when it comes to doctors and patients.

Feature: International Campaign to Stop Drug Executions Gearing Up

Some 32 countries have laws on their books allowing for the death penalty for drug offenses. A new report details the situation and lays the groundwork for a campaign to stop it.

Marijuana: Vermont Governor Open to Discussing Decriminalization, He Says

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas says he is willing to discuss marijuana decriminalization. He is responding to a proposal from a key Democratic legislator, and he's taking a much softer stance than he did just a couple of months ago.

Psychedelics: Nebraska Moves to Ban Salvia Divinorum

The Nebraska attorney general and at least one legislator want to protect Cornhusker youth from salvia divinorum by sending them to prison for five years if they get caught with it.

Law Enforcement: Ohio SWAT Team Kills Woman, Wounds Toddler in Drug Raid

An Ohio SWAT shot and killed a young black mother and wounded the toddler she was holding in her arms during a routine drug raid last Friday. An angry community wants some answers and some accountability.

Law Enforcement: Dallas Police to Accept Recruits With Past Drug Use

The Dallas police department will now hire applicants who admit to past hard drug use -- but only if it was more than 10 years, the applicant was under 21, he didn't shoot up, and he only did it once.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There's some funny accounting in some Mississippi anti-drug task forces, there's a bunch of dope missing from the Boston police evidence room, and crooked cops are headed for prison in Chicago, Nashville, and New Haven.

Latin America: Drug Gang Battles Cops, Soldiers in Mexican Border Town

The new year has brought more drug war violence to the Mexican border, as drug gunmen battled cops and soldiers in a bloody confrontation in Rio Bravo, across the river from McAllen, Texas.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View," by Margaret Battin, et al. (2008, Oxford University Press, 279 pp., $21.95 PB)

We review "Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, and Comprehensive View" and find it a valuable, thoughtful, and more accessible than you might think contribution to the literature.

Law Enforcement: DEA to Hire 200 New Agents

Thanks to the budget bill passed by Congress last month, DEA will be able to end a hiring freeze and sign up 200 more Special Agents.

Death Penalty: Iran, Vietnam Ring In New Year With More Executions, Death Sentences

Iran rang in the new year by hanging three drug offenders, and Vietnam sentenced eight more to die.

Pain Medicine: Emergency Room Doctors More Likely to Prescribe Opioids to Whites Than Minorities

If you're in pain at a hospital emergency room, you're more likely to get the medication you need if you're white, a new study has found.

Marijuana: Despite Law Allowing Ticketing for Pot Possession, Most Texas Counties Still Arrest

The Texas legislature last year gave local law enforcement the option of ticketing misdemeanor marijuana offenders instead of arresting them, but only Travis County has gone for it.

Harm Reduction: DC Quick to Move After Congress Lifts Needle Exchange Funding Ban

Less than two weeks after Congress finally removed a decade-old ban on the District of Columbia using its own money to fund needle exchanges, District officials announced they would spend $650,000 to expand existing program and start new ones.

Europe: British Police Chief Stirs Controversy With Claims That Drugs Will Be Legal in Ten Years, Ecstasy Is Safer Than Aspirin

North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom is at it again. The veteran critic of drug prohibition has stirred up a hornet's nest with his latest comments, including one that ecstasy is "safer than aspirin."

Feature: What We Will Be Watching at Drug War Chronicle in 2008

It's a new year, but there are lots of ongoing issues for the Chronicle to cover. Here's a look at what we think we'll be writing about in 2008.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cop Stories

A crooked Florida cop seeks a sentence cut, and two more jail guards get in trouble.

Prisons: Facing Budget Crisis, California Governor Ponders Early Release of 22,000 Nonviolent Offenders

With California facing a $14 billion budget deficit, the governor's budget cutters have come up with a proposal to release more than 22,000 nonviolent offenders before their sentences are up.

Legislation: Illinois Joins Short List of States Banning Salvia Divinorum

Possession of salvia divinorum is a felony in Illinois beginning next week.

Latin America: Ecuador President Wants to Pardon Drug "Mules"

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, the son of a man once imprisoned on drug charges in the US, has called for pardons for low-level drug mules serving long sentences in his country's prisons.

Law Enforcement: Snitches Gone Bad

Critics of the widespread use of informants in the drug war have long argued the system is subject to abuse. Three cases of informants gone bad popped up in the past week.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The allure of cocaine proves too much for a California highway patrolman and a pair of Brooklyn narcs, and a pair of New Jersey cops pay for peddling pills.

Asia: China Set to Adopt Anti-Drug Law

The Chinese National People's Congress is set to pass that country's first drug law, after subsuming drugs within the general criminal code for half a century. Designated addicts may actually get gentler treatment in the new framework than they receive now.

Marijuana: Idaho Balks at Town's Pot Initiatives

In November, voters in Hailey, Idaho, approved initiatives legalizing medical marijuana and industrial hemp and instructing the town to make marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. Now, the Idaho attorney general's office has found those initiatives to be "invalid" and the city is balking at implementing them.

Feature: The Top Ten Drug War Stories of 2007, According to Drug War Chronicle

As 2007 comes to a close, Drug War Chronicle takes a look at the 500+ stories we published this year, and offers you our best judgment call on what were the year's top ten drug war stories.

Law Enforcement: Chicago's Courts Are in Crisis, and the Drug War Is a Big Contributor, Report Finds

Chicago's 26th Street Criminal Court Building handles more than 28,000 felony cases a year, more than half of them drug cases. That's too much, says a new report, which offers some recommendations for reducing the burden.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy this week, with miscreants in blue popping up all over the place. A New York City drug squad is under scrutiny, while a New Mexico drug squad gets back to work, a Boston cop goes to prison, and cops from Florida, Ohio, and Minnesota get busted for their shenanigans, as do a pair of Texas jailers.

Europe: Finland to Set Guidelines for Medical Marijuana Use

After one patient successfully challenged an agency's stance that Finnish law absolutely forbids it, the Finnish government is moving to craft guidelines to allow for medical marijuana use.

Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice," by Ethan Brown (2007, Public Affairs Press, 273 pp., $25.95 HB)

Author Ethan Brown examines the rhyme and reason of the controversial "stop snitching" movement, and the abuses in drug law and enforcement that caused it to come to be.

Canada: The Drug Business is Booming, Says Mounties Report

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has released its latest annual report on drugs and drug trafficking in Canada. It's sobering reading for anyone who thinks countries can enforce their way out of a drug problem.

Mexico: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced

An opposition deputy has introduced a bill that would "decriminalize" marijuana possession in Mexico. Instead of jail time, users would face "informative or educational" sanctions.

Death Penalty: Malaysia to Execute Man for Marijuana, China to Execute Man for Meth

Even as the UN General Assembly condemned the death penalty this week, China condemned one man to death for methamphetamine trafficking and Malaysia condemned another to death for having less than two pounds of marijuana.

Federal Budget: Drug Czar's Ad Campaign Takes a Hit, DC Can Do Needle Exchange, But More Funding for Law Enforcement

The 2008 federal budget is a done deal now. The drug czar's youth anti-drug media campaign takes a well-deserved hit and DC wins the right to spend its own money on needle exchanges. But the drug war juggernaut just keeps rolling on along as law enforcement wins big bucks.

Sentencing: New Jersey Moves to Shrink "Drug-Free Zones," Cops Protest

New Jersey's governor, all 21 county prosecutors, and the state sentencing commission all want to reform the state's "drug-free zone" law, but some New Jersey cops like things just the way they are.

Drug Treatment: Federal Budget Provides Same Funding or Small Increases for Treatment, Prevention Programs, But Reduces Safe and Drug-Free Grants Program

As part of its massive omnibus appropriations bill passed this week, Congress has, for the most part, funded treatment and prevention programs at or slightly above previous levels.

Feature: Latest Teen Drug Use Numbers Out -- White House Claims Success, Critics Say Not So Fast

The latest annual Monitoring the Future survey of teen drug use is out, and the Bush administration is claiming the numbers vindicate its anti-drug strategy. But a host of critics disagree.

Law Enforcement: Snitch in Deadly Atlanta Raid Case Sues

Alex White made a career out of being an informant for Atlanta police, but when they asked him to lie for them in the Kathryn Johnston case, he instead went to the feds. Now he's suing the Atlanta police, claiming his career as a snitch has been ruined.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Indiana drug task force faces some questions over seized goods, the NYPD can't find some drug evidence, a Texas crime lab tech gets greedy, and so does an Indiana cop.

Europe: Swiss Parliament Rejects Marijuana Legalization

The Swiss parliament has rejected a popular initiative calling for the legalization of marijuana. But the Swiss Senate must still debate it, and it could go to a popular vote.

Medical Marijuana: DEA Threatens San Francisco Dispensary Landlords, Dispensaries Sue, Conyers to Hold Hearings

In its battle against medical marijuana dispensaries, the DEA has brought its landlord-threatening letter campaign to San Francisco. Now, the dispensaries are suing in federal court, and the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the matter.

Feature: Pressure Mounts on Congress As Supreme Court, Sentencing Commission Both Act to Cut Crack Cocaine Sentences

Both the US Sentencing Commission and the US Supreme Court acted this week to reduce the harsh sentences for federal crack cocaine offenders. But because of congressionally imposed mandatory minimum sentences, Congress must act to further reduce the injustice.

Feature: Drug Reform Goes to the Big Easy -- The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, New Orleans

The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference took place last weekend in New Orleans. Here is a taste of what is was like.

Death Penalty: Vietnam In Death Sentence Frenzy, 35 Condemned for Drugs in Past Two Weeks

Vietnamese courts have handed down death sentences to 35 drug traffickers in the past two weeks as the Southeast Asian nation makes a serious bid to be the world's leading executioner of drug offenders. Iran killed some too.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Troopers telling lies, troopers selling cocaine, cops peddling coke, Border Patrols agents peddling pot, cops peddling cocaine and pot, but not a single jail or prison guard this week!

Latin America: Mexico's President Says Fighting Drugs, Crime His Highest Priority

One year after he took office, Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the war on drugs remains his highest priority. Some 24,000 troops are in the field, but the traffic and the violence appear to continue unabated.

Sentencing: Racial Disparities in Drug Sentences the Norm in the Nation's Most Populous Counties, Study Finds

A report released this week by the Justice Policy Institute finds that racially disparate sentencing is the norm in the nation's most populous counties.

Europe: British Drug Council Calls for Heroin, Cocaine Prescribing By Nurses, Pharmacists, Chides Government's Drug Strategy Consultation

As Britain's Labor government prepares to announce a new long-term drug strategy in the spring, the battle is heating up. Now, the government's own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is calling for nurses and pharmacists to be able to prescribe heroin and cocaine, and chiding the government for making a joke of consultations around the new strategy.

Feature: The Bible, a Black Bag, and a Drug Dog -- A Florida Drug War Story

In the latest installment of the Chronicle's occasional series on the day-to-day workings of the drug war, we go to Florida, where a drug interdiction exercise disguised as a traffic enforcement effort, some sheriff's radio shenanigans, a suspicious Bible, and a drug dog left one Key West man wondering what hit him.

Feature: The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference -- Mr. Costa Meets the Opposition

The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform Conference opened with a bang Thursday in New Orleans as the United Nation's top drug fighter addressed a skeptical and sometimes hostile audience.

Southeast Asia: Most Killed in Thailand's 2003 Drug War Not Involved With Drugs, Panel Finds

Investigatory panels looking into 2,500 drug war killings in Thailand in the spring of 2003 have determined that more than half of those killed had nothing to do with drugs. Meanwhile, at least one Thai politician wants to return to the tough drug policies that led to those mass killings.

Europe: Edinburgh Police Plan for "Drug Tolerance Zone" in City Center Stirs Controversy

A high police official in Edinburgh has broached the notion of not arresting small-time drug offenders in the city center, but the idea has attracted a lot of heat, and now the police are backpedaling.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Bad cops cost cases in one Georgia county, a bad cop gets popped in another Georgia county, a bad cop gets several breaks from his colleagues in Michigan, and a bad cop goes to prison in Texas.

Harm Reduction: New Jersey's First Legal Needle Exchange Is Open

New Jersey's first legal needle exchange opened for business Tuesday. The move comes nearly a year after the legislature finally approved a pilot program for up to six cities. Look for more exchanges to come in Camden, Newark, and Paterson.

Southwest Asia: US Plan For Aerial Spraying of Afghan Poppies on Hold -- for Now

Facing strong opposition from the Afghan government, European allies, and even elements of the US government, the State Department announced Wednesday it had given up on an aerial spraying program designed to eradicate Afghan opium poppies -- at least for now.

Death Penalty: More Executions in Iran, More Death Sentences in Vietnam

The use of the death penalty against drug offenders continues apace in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Iran executes six, Vietnam upholds one death sentence, and Vietnamese prosecutors seek 11 more.

Chewing and Grinding: A South Dakota Drug War Story

Going home from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally should have been a pleasant ride for Nebraskan Eric Sage. It didn't turn out that way--for him or his friends.

Canadian Tories' Mandatory Minimum Drug Bill Draws Stiff Opposition, But Can It Be Stopped?

Last week, Canada's Conservative government introduced legislation to create mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, including marijuana cultivation. Now, opposition is emerging, but will it be able to block Canada's lurch toward a US-style drug war?

Medical Marijuana: Courts in California and Colorado Rule Cops Must Return Patient's Medicine

Law enforcement agencies which cannot seem to grasp that medical marijuana is legal in their states got their hands slapped by courts in Colorado and California this week. In both states, judges ruled that police must return medical marijuana unlawfully seized from legal patients or providers.

Hemp: Court Rejects Bid By North Dakota Farmers to Get DEA Out of the Way

A federal district judge in Bismarck has dismissed a lawsuit by two would-be North Dakota hemp farmers who sought to get the DEA out of their way. Congress should address the issue, the judge said.

Europe: British Heroin Maintenance Trials a Success, Researchers Say

A pilot heroin maintenance program in three British locations has been successful in cutting crime and street drug use, according to preliminary results.

Europe: Irish Labor Party Debates Cannabis Legalization, Defers Decision

The Irish Labor Party debated whether to make cannabis legalization or decrim part of the party platform at its annual conference last Friday, but deferred a decision on whether to do so.

Australia: In Desperate Pre-Election Move, Prime Minister Howard Says He Will Take Control of Drug Users' Welfare Payments

With elections looming on Saturday and his party trailing, Australian Prime Minister has announced a "zero tolerance" plan to take control of welfare payments for drug offenders.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Two Atlanta cops are headed to prison in the Kathryn Johnston killing, an NYPD narc goes down for drug running, and a strung-out Pennsylvania cop heads to jail for peddling pills.

Medical Marijuana: Michigan Initiative Organizers Hand in Half a Million Signatures

It looks like medical marijuana will be on the 2008 ballot in Michigan. Organizers of a signature-gathering campaign for an initiative turned in nearly 500,000 signatures this week, almost 200,000 more than needed.

Southeast Asia: Reports Coming on Thailand's 2003 Drug War Killings

Four and a half years ago, then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to wipe out drug use in Thailand. Within three months, 2,500 people were dead. Now, a new government is about to release a series of reports on the killings.

Sentencing: US Prison Population Could Be Cut in Half With Four Humane Reforms, Including Drug Decriminalization, Report Says

A smarter and more humane approach to crime and imprisonment, including drug decriminalization, could save billions of dollars and greatly reduce the need to put millions of people behind bars, a new report says.

Canada: Federal Government Introduces Anti-Drug Legislation

Canada's Conservative government this week unveiled its repressive new approach to drugs. It wants mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, including marijuana growing, and it wants to double the maximum sentence for pot growing. Look for a battle royal in the West's most pot-friendly country.

Feature: On the Anniversary of Kathryn Johnston's Death, Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Use of SWAT-Style Tactics in Routine Drug Raids

A Zogby poll commissioned by StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) has found that nearly two-thirds of likely voters oppose SWAT-style raids to deal with routine drug offenders. The results are released as we mark the one-year anniversary of the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, the Atlanta woman gunned down by rogue police conducting a forced entry drug raid.

Feature: Higher Education Act Drug Conviction Penalty Repeal Stymied As Democrats Choke -- Again

The movement to repeal the Higher Education Act's drug provision hit a major roadblock last week when House Democrats reneged on pushing an amendment to undo it. But the provision's author, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), keeps scaling it back in self-defense.

Goodbye To a Drug Warrior; Australian Prime Minister John Howard Set to Lose Power in Saturday's Elections

The Australian Labor Party and its leader, Kevin Rudd, appear poised to drive drug warrior Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal/National Party coalition from office in elections coming this Satu

Medical Marijuana: Invited By "Pro-Family Group," Drug Czar's Chief Scientist Testifies at Tennessee House Hearing

A Tennessee medical marijuana bill saw a bunch of hostile witnesses, as the drug czar's office teamed up with the local religious right to try to nip it in the bud.

Death Penalty: Two More Executed for Drug Trafficking in Saudi Arabia

Two more drug offenders were executed last week in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is in a de facto contest with Iran, Indonesia, and Malaysia to see who is the world's leading killer of drug law violators.

Marijuana: A Week After Initiative Vote, Denver Bites the Bullet -- Sort Of

A week after Denver voters for the third time in as many years signaled that marijuana users should not be arrested, city officials are moving -- reluctantly -- to implement a lowest priority initiative.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Tennessee's narc of the year gets busted, and cops in Boston and Buffalo cop pleas.

Popular Culture: One-Third of Hit Songs Contain Drug Use References

Pop music is full of drug references, researchers have found, most of them positive. Stop the presses!

Marijuana: California Cops Destroy Pot Worth Twice As Much as State's Largest Legal Cash Crop, But Still Miss Vast Majority of It

Another harvest season has come and gone in California, and law enforcement is crowing about record marijuana plant seizures. The numbers are huge, but the numbers missed are bigger -- and so are the lost tax revenues.

Australia: Queensland to Increase Drug Penalties

The Australian state of Queensland is effectively increasing penalties for a number of drugs by rescheduling them as more dangerous.

Feature: Would-Be North Dakota Hemp Farmers Have Another Day in Court

North Dakota farmers who are suing the federal government for the right to grow hemp had another day in court Wednesday in Bismarck as federal prosecutors sought to get the case thrown out. A decision on that motion is expected by month's end.

Feature: Presidential Contenders and Drug Policy II -- Republicans

Last week, we looked at the Democratic presidential candidates' drug policy positions. This week, it's the Republicans' turn.

Full of It: Rep. Mark Souder Souder Gets Called on His Characterization of HEA Reform Supporters

Arch-drug warrior went a little too far when he called opponents of his pet financial aid drug convictions law a pack of drug legalizers. Now, he's being called on it.

Hemp On the Menu in Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismarck's Bistro restaurant is known for its fine, grass-fed North Dakota beef and fine wines, but the menu last night included a tasty garden salad with hemp oil dressing.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A New York cop goes down for peddling pot, a Connecticut cop goes down for slinging smack, and a Nashville cop goes to the pen for ripping off a drug dealer.

Death Penalty: Two More Drug Offenders Executed in Iran

Iran continues to execute drug offenders. Two more were hanged October 30.

Caribbean: Trinidad & Tobago Political Leader Calls For New Approach in Dealing with Marijuana

The leading of the main opposition party in Trinidad & Tobago called last week for a reassessment of marijuana prohibition. Too bad that after losing Monday's election, the party will have five years before it has another shot at power.

Europe: Dutch to Extend Medical Marijuana Program for Another Five Years

Holland's experimental medical marijuana program will be extended for another five years, mainly to allow for the development of cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, the Dutch Health Ministry announced Wednesday.

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