Seems the enlightened, the progressive, the sophisticated, the Dutch may give up selling medical marijuana through a nationalized industry. Possibly because they can’t compete with the coffee shops, but also because doctors aren’t all that interested in prescribing it:
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The Dutch Health Ministry, unhappy with legal sales of medical marijuana through pharmacies, will reevaluate its program later this year and may close it, a spokesman said Monday.
Sales began in September 2003 and fell flat.
Doctors who had lobbied for legalizing prescription marijuana in the 1990s failed to prescribe it once it was available in drug stores, Kuik said.
One reason may be the high price of prescribed marijuana compared with the product sold at the neighborhood coffee shop. The prescription marijuana is about double the price of the unauthorized drug — or about $280 an ounce — since it must cover the costs of regulating production, packaging and sales tax.
Another reason might be that the whole medical marijuana movement is pretty just much a back door for stoners to circumvent the drug laws, and the medical claims are exaggerated. But don’t take my word for it. What does the Dutch health minister have to say about the value of medical marijuana?
Another reason for the Dutch policy review is that the current health minister, Hans Hoogervorst, is less committed to liberal drug policies than his predecessor, who initiated the program, Kuik said.
Hoogervorst argues the medical value of marijuana has never been scientifically proven, despite anecdotal testimony from sufferers of chronic pain.
But clearly that it’s going to be difficult even for any sort of decriminalized drug program to compete with the black market, which doesn’t have to worry about lawsuits, minimum wage requirements, etc.
Meanwhile, so many foreigners come to the Netherlands to smoke pot in coffee shops, especially in towns near the German border, that the Dutch are considering restricting sales to residents or to customers with special passes.
Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has said the Dutch must take action to curb “drugs tourism.”
Wait, Piet, are you saying that Amsterdam’s drug scene affects interstate–or international–commerce? I heard a fellow named Scalia hinting as much over here the other day.
A hip of the tat to the WorldTribune.
–Posted by See-Dubya
PS Angry Stoners: my e-mail is patterico (at) patterico.com. I’d love to hear from you about the truth about Medical Marijuana and how we should free the weed!