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Netherlands: Health minister considers stopping the sale of

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IACM-Bulletin of 3 April 2005
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The Netherlands: Health minister considers stopping the sale of
medicinal cannabis in pharmacies

Health Minister Han Hoogervorst is considering abandoning the
legal sale of medicinal cannabis in pharmacies and closing the
Office of Medicinal Cannabis. In response to questions from the
Tweede Kamer (House of Representatives of the Dutch
parliament) he said on 17 March that he intends to decide on the
future of the program after summer.

Questions were related to the status of the program, which
started to sell cannabis in pharmacies in September 2003 and
lost 400,000 Euros in 2004. Hoogervorst said that in times of
budget cutbacks, such a project was destined to be stopped. He
also noted that doctors were not very positive about prescribing
cannabis to patients and that patients prefer to buy it from coffee-
shops.

Hoogervorst also claimed that the medicinal properties of
cannabis have never been proven and that the use of cannabis
may cause side-effects such as psychoses. But the Office of
Medicinal Cannabis asserted that patients do benefit from
cannabis and psychoses occur only rarely. The PvdA (Partij van
de Arbeid, Labour Party) called on the minister to put more
energy into the success of the program.

(Sources: expatica.com of 18 March 2005, De Volkskrant of
18 March 2005, NRC Handelsblad of 18 March 2005)
 

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