Society Debates

Czech Republic – Netherlands: Cannabis: Medicine or hard drug?

6 October 2011
Presseurop
De Volkskrant

De Volkskrant, 6 October 2011

In the Netherlands, "strong joints will be considered a hard drug", says Dutch daily De Volkskrant. The government recently decided that Dutch coffee shops will no longer be allowed to sell cannabis with a content above 15% of THC, the active component of marijuana. A 2010 sampling, showed that 80% of the cannabis sold had a THC level of over 15%. The ruling conservative coalition says it is following the advice of a commission set up to study the health effects of high levels of THC by the preceding Labour government. The measure is another tough blow for Dutch coffee shops, which, as of 2012, will have to establish frequent user cards aimed at dissuading drug tourism.

The Czech Republic, on the other hand, seems headed towards more flexible legislation. The Health Ministry announced that it is preparing a drug law that would allow marijuana to be considered as a medical drug. It could be prescribed to those with serious health conditions; those undergoing chemotherapy, or suffering from multiple sclerosis or a terminal illness, for example. "The marijuana will be cultivated by the State or imported from abroad," says Czech daily MF Dnes, explaining that the hemp could be cultivated directly by the State or by private establishments under licence. It could also be imported from the Netherlands, which, due to current legislation, is the most probable solution. It remains to be seen, the paper notes, how the new "medicine" will be made available only in pharmacies and via medical prescription and not on the black market.