Pubdate: Tue, 18 Mar 2003
Source: Billings Gazette, The (MT)
Copyright: 2003 The Billings Gazette
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Just what the doctor ordered? 

Pharmacies may fill prescriptions for marijuana and patients can get the
cost covered by insurance, according to a law that went into effect Monday.

Doctors in the famously liberal Netherlands have long recommended marijuana
to cancer patients as an appetite enhancer and to combat pain and nausea.
But it is usually bought at one of the country's 800 "coffee shops," where
the plant is sold openly while police look the other way. 

"The health minister said, look, doctors are prescribing marijuana to their
patients anyway, and there are many medicinal users, so we may as well
regulate it," said Bas Kuik, a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Health.

Recent studies show a fractional increase in the number of people in the
Netherlands who say they have tried marijuana, while overall use levels
remain well below those in the United States, despite its widespread
availability here.
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