As of today, September 1, 2003, Dutch pharmacies will begin legally stocking marijuana and selling it to those with cannabis prescriptions from their doctors. It can now be sold in any of the 1,650 pharmacies in the Netherlands (in addition to the 800+ coffeeshops already selling marijuana). 80 hospitals and 400 doctors will also be allowed to prescribe and dispense the drug.
High quality marijuana in it's raw form will be available in 5 gram packets for 50 Euros. This makes the Netherlands the first country in the world to prescribe and sell cannabis since it was prohibited by UN convention (it used to be one of the most frequently prescribed drugs before prohibition).
The Netherlands has done the most extensive research into the medical and social uses of cannabis, and knows for a fact that it has many medicinal uses including helping AIDS and Multiple Sclerosis patients. The government's Bureau for Medicinal Cannabis (BMC) has been researching the effect of the drug on patients, and is the agency charged with overseeing the production and distribution of medical cannabis in the Netherlands.
The Dutch amended their Opium Law to allow the prescription and distribution of cannabis through pharmacies. Two growers will supply the pharmacies with medicinal grade marijuana.
Of course patients can also visit any of over 800 coffeeshops that also sell marijuana, but of course if they do, they'll have to pay for it, whereas if they get a prescription it's hoped their insurance will cover most of the cost. The public insurers will decide soon whether to cover cannabis as just another pharmacy drug.
The Netherlands has led the world in allowing people the freedom to use soft drugs such as marijuana and hashish without penalty. In addition their research has shown how effective marijuana is for medical conditions and how separating soft drugs from hard drugs has benefited their society.
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