Get Your Grass in Amsterdam – Legally!

Hi! I’m back, and I’m enjoying Labor Day (a public holiday) here in the USA. Don’t go accusing me of “holiday arbitrage” – i.e. of heading to the States to celebrate their version of labor’s holiday after having first celebrated Europe’s version. You see, 1 May is not really a holiday in the Netherlands, not because of any less dedication on the part of the Dutch to the working man (indeed, one of the major political parties is the Partij van de Arbeid, or “Party of Work”) but because of the previous day, 30 April, which is a major holiday in Holland, namely the Queen’s birthday.

Still, there’s always time for a homesick glance back to the country of residence even from across the ocean, via the Internet, naturally. And today, 1 September, is itself a date of some note, at least according to the NRC Handelsblad: From today, in the Netherlands marijuana can be legally purchased by prescription for medicinal purposes.

That particular article in the NRC is entitled Dure wiet in apotheek, and claims that the Netherlands is the first country in the world where this obtaining of marijuana by prescription is allowed. Further details: If obtaining marijuana is to be legal (under certain controlled circumstances), then it’s logical that, somehow, supplying it is also to be legal. Up to now (i.e. in the famous Dutch “coffeeshops,” where there’s not supposed to be anyone supplying the grass) authorities have turned a blind eye to the goings-on, and presumably will continue to do so. But of course that’s not quite good enough for this new, “authorized” weed, so two authorized suppliers have been announced, which are 1) The Stichting Institute of Medical Marijuana (or SIMM; stichting in Dutch means “institute” or “foundation”; it’s strange that this organization uses both Dutch and English in its official name), and 2) A company called “Bedrocan,” which sells its product under the same name – “bedrocan,” 50 euros for 5 grams. (SIMM 18, SIMM’s product, is only 44 euros for the same amount; apparently bedrocan is “heavier.”) For those of you wondering, those prices are higher than what you’d encounter in the coffee shops, where those who needed medical marijuana (among others) had to go to get it before this historic date. But that stands to reason: in the coffee shops, you can never be sure what it is you’re getting, but with these “official” products you can be.

And how to take your medicine? (I hope I’m not about to give away any illicit secrets here!) First: You don’t smoke it, if possible. That way is not recommended, because of the risk of lung cancer. Rather, it is best to make a sort of “cannabis-tea”: cook one gram in one liter of water; drink a cup of that concoction per day. (Do you store it in the refrigerator? The article doesn’t say.) Or you can take it with an inhaler; some reportedly “sprinkle it over their spaghetti.”

Strangely, it’s the NRC that covers this interesting new development exclusively. I couldn’t find reference to it in any of the other on-line Dutch press. Their reporters must simply be on the ball – or maybe they were tipped off by friends in high places.

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