Global Report: The Netherlands

In Feature Stories, Global by Chris Hogg

The Netherlands has long been at the forefront of offering medical marijuana to its citizens. Medical marijuana was legalized in the Netherlands for use in pharmacies in 2003 and since 2007 several pharmacies have specialized in medical cannabis. They buy medical cannabis in bulk and can therefore deliver the products for a lower price. Three types of medical cannabis are available through pharmacies: Bedrocan, Bedrobinol and Bediol

In 2005, two years after medical marijuana was legalized in the country, 60% to 70% of Dutch physicians regarded medical cannabis sufficiently socially accepted and would prescribe it if asked for by a patient.

The number of patients using cannabis for medical purposes steadily increased in recent years, growing from about 850 in 2006, to more than 1,300 in 2010. A study of the program found the majority of medical marijuana recipients were over 40 years old and primarily female.

More than 10,000 patients with illnesses from rheumatoid arthritis to terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS were initially estimated to be entitled to medical marijuana.

Where are Dutch scientists working to analyze marijuana? Research is taking place at University of Utrecht, an organization that works with the Dutch Association for Legal Cannabis and its Constituents for Medicinal Use. They released a major study on use of prescribed cannabis in Netherlands and also worked on MRI studies of cannabis users.

In Summary:

  • Legalized medical marijuana for use in pharmacies in 2003. Since 2007 several pharmacies have become specialized in medicinal cannabis. They buy medicinal cannabis in bulk and can therefore deliver the product for a lower price. Three types of medicinal cannabis are available through pharmacies: Bedrocan, Bedrobinol and Bediol.
  • The number of patients using cannabis for medicinal purposes steadily increased in recent years, growing from about 850 in 2006, to more than 1,300 in 2010.
  • Medical-marijuana milestone? September 2003. Pharmacies across the Netherlands begin to stock medical cannabis. More than 10,000 patients with illnesses from rheumatoid arthritis to terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS were initially estimated to be entitled to medical marijuana at that time.
  • Research taking place at University of Utrecht, working with Dutch Association for Legal Cannabis and its Constituents for Medicinal Use. Major study of use of prescribed cannabis in Netherlands. Also worked on MRI studies of cannabis users.