Dutch Parliament Likely to Legalize Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
The lower chamber of the Dutch Parliament next week is expected to approve legislation to legalize medicinal use of marijuana for people with debilitating diseases, and the Senate is expected to follow suit sometime later this year, the AP/Nando Times reports. Three government coalition partners and two of the largest opposition parties said on Monday that they support the bill, which would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana produced by government-regulated growers to severely ill patients, including people with AIDS. Because the political composition of the Senate is similar to that of the lower house, the bill is also expected to win passage there later this year, and prescription marijuana could be available in drug stores "within a year or so," according to Health Ministry spokesperson Bas Kuik. If the bill is approved, the two growers selected by the government will be the first legal marijuana suppliers in Europe. Officials have debated placing prescription marijuana on the national health care plan, but under current plans the drug would only be free through "special" health insurance plans. Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but officials allow "coffee shops" to sell small amounts of the drug (AP/Nando Times, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.