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International News
Dutch Pharmacies To Sell Government-Tested Marijuana for Medical Use

September 3, 2003

The Netherlands on Monday became the first country in the world to supply marijuana as a medicine, by providing government-tested marijuana to pharmacies for use in treating patients experiencing nausea or pain associated with AIDS, cancer and other illnesses, the Associated Press reports (Deutsch, Associated Press, 9/1). Two companies have been given licenses to grow cannabis to sell to the country's Ministry of Health for distribution (Los Angeles Times, 9/2). The cannabis will be tested by the health ministry, and health insurers will cover the drug for the first time under a law that went into effect in March, according to the Associated Press (Associated Press, 9/1). The government recommends that the cannabis be inhaled through a steam treatment or infused in water and drunk as tea (de Hemptinne, Agence France-Presse, 9/1). The health ministry estimates that up to 7,000 people in the Netherlands already regularly use cannabis for medical reasons and believes that the number could double under the new law. Analysts have said that England and parts of the United States, Australia and Canada are considering similar programs and will "carefully monito[r]" the Dutch system, according to London's Guardian (Osborn, Guardian, 9/2).

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