Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jun 2005
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The Dutch Health Ministry, unhappy with legal
sales of medical marijuana through pharmacies, will re-evaluate its
program later this year and may close it, a spokesman said yesterday.

In a country where unauthorized marijuana has been easily available
for decades, the government was surprised to find that prescription
marijuana produced under stringent quality controls has been far less
successful than predicted, said Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik.

The government is selling less than one-third of the marijuana it
thought it would and is losing money, said Mr. Kuik. Doctors who had
lobbied for legalizing prescription marijuana in the 1990s failed to
prescribe it once it was available in drugstores. Sales began in
September 2003 and fell flat, Mr. Kuik said.

One reason may be the high price of prescribed marijuana, compared
with the product sold at the neighbourhood coffee shop. The
prescription marijuana is about double the price of the unprescribed
drug -- or about $280 U.S. an ounce -- since it must cover the costs
of regulating production, packaging and sales tax.
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