The Netherlands – A limited number of patients legally obtain medicinal cannabis through a visit to a pharmacy with a doctor's prescription. Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said he was not surprised by the finding this week. Health insurers do not reimburse medicinal cannabis and doctors are reluctant to prescribe it.
However, Kuipers does not rule out the possibility that there are other reasons why patients cannot obtain the drug completely legally. The medicinal cannabis available through pharmacists may not contain enough active ingredients that the patient needs. It is also possible that patients want to use cannabis for health problems for which they cannot obtain a prescription. There will also be people who choose to grow the marijuana themselves, a ministry spokesman said.
Target group for medical cannabis
More research is needed to gain a better understanding of the target group for medicinal cannabis, says Kuipers. The Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis (BMC), a government organization, has been responsible for the cultivation of sufficient medicinal cannabis for scientific research and for the production of medicines for many years. In the Netherlands it has a monopoly on legal purchase, sale, import and export. The BMC is also obliged to purchase all medical cannabis produced in the Netherlands.
Monopoly and amendment of the Opium Act
Kuipers wants to change the role of the BMC. That role needs to be reduced when it comes to the medicinal cannabis trade, he said. The applicable Dutch law, the Opium Act, must be revised in order to change the monopoly position of the BMC and the purchase obligation. This will have consequences, for example for scientific and clinical research and the development of medicines.
Cooperation and trade between pharmaceutical companies and research institutions at home and abroad is becoming increasingly simple. Moreover, these parties themselves can take responsibility for the quality, safety and availability of medicinal cannabis.
Stimulating scientific research on cannabis
“The aim of this step is to give an impulse to scientific research into the effect of medicinal cannabis. By enabling companies to trade in medicinal cannabis and purchase products needed to research its effects," the spokesperson said. Pharmaceutical companies have not yet taken many initiatives.
Source: NLtimes.nl (EN)