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About Dutch Medical Cannabis

In the Netherlands the Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) is the official government bureau that oversees the production and distribution of medical cannabis. It has a monopoly on all cannabis trade, import and export, and can decide on special exemptions to the opium act.

Within the Netherlands OMC distributes exclusively to pharmacies, pharmacy holding GPs, hospitals and veterinarians. Outside of the Netherlands they can also deliver depending on strict agreements between the associated authorities of both nations.

The OMC, in collaboration with the Dutch Health Inspectors, also supervise to ensure the medicine is not used illegally. Unlike the situation in America, cannabis in the Netherlands is prescribed by your local doctor, and picked up from your local dispensary.

Of Mice And Marijuana

Traditionally, in some cultures the elderly smoke cannabis. This is reported to help an elder convey knowledge of the tribe’s culture. It turns out that this is not such a bad idea today.

A research group led by Andreas Zimmer of the University of Bonn in Germany, studied the mammalian endocannabinoid system (the indiginous cannabis system in all mammals.) This is involved in stabilizing the stress responses of our body. THC’s effect on this system generally causes us to calm down.

Studies in mice

Scientists found that mice grow older sooner–with genetic mutations that disrupt the functioning of the endocannabinoid system–than mice that have no mutations. The cognition of mice with genetic mutations also deteriorated at a higher rate, as a result, Zimmer wondered if stimulation of the endocannabinoid system would have an opposite effect.

The young mice from the control group that did not receive THC performed much better than the middle and elderly control group mice. But the middle and older mice who received THC performed as well as the young mice, without THC.

Further studies showed that THC stimulates the number of brain cell connections in the hippocampus, a brain area involved with memory. “It’s a striking result,” says Zimmer.

Zimmer thinks his results show that too much or too little stimulation of the endocannabinoid system can be harmful. This system is most active in young mice and humans, so the additional stimulation of THC can overload it. Unlike older mice, the activity of the endocannabinoid system is decreasing, so a little bit of THC could reduce the system to an optmum level.

Studies in people

The results from the research are not so surprising, according to pharmacologist David Nutt of Imperial College London, who specializes in neuropsychology. Animal studies have shown that the cannabinoids produced in the body have beneficial effects on the brain. Nutt and his colleagues have also found that the use of THC can protect alcoholics from brain damage, caused by alcohol.

The Zimmer research team is now planning to conduct studies in humans to investigate whether older people can benefit from a small dose of THC.

Even if the researchers find the same results in humans as in mice, it’s unlikely that doctors will prescribe joints. “The dosage is important,” says Zimmer. ‘Smoking of marijuana is very different.’

About Vaporizing

Vaporizers in Amsterdam

Besides smoking, vaporizing is a popular way to consume cannabis in Amsterdam coffeeshops. With a device called a vaporizer you can heat up weed and sometimes hashish, to a specific temperature at which the active ingredients in cannabis evaporate. This temperature (229c) is well below the point of combustion, keeping the weed from igniting.

In short, a vaporizer more-or-less  ‘steams’ your weed as opposed to burning it. Thus, when vaporizing the active ingredients, no smoke is created. People who do not smoke may still ”vape”.

In the Netherlands, some coffeeshops have in-house vaporizers which are offered as a free service, if you purchase something from the weed counter.

Over the years a number of smaller, hand held vaporizers were developed that make it possible to vape’ out and about. These devices are usually USB charged. While some versions are made specifically for dry herbs, other models allow for the use of concentrates like wax, shatter and honey oil.

Vaporizing is arguably less damaging than regular smoking, producing less second hand smoke, and it is a preferred method for medical cannabis users.

Recreational Or Medical Cannabis?

In the Netherlands, medical cannabis is regulated and legally prescribed by family doctors, so long as the patients can prove other treatments do not work. These prescriptions are dispensed by the patient’s local pharmacy.

Since 2003, medicinal cannabis has been prescribed as a remedy for various complaints, in trhe process making Holland Europe’s largest manufacturer and distributor of medical cannabis.

Operating under contract for the Ministry of Health, Dutch company Bedrocan is the only producer of cannabis certified by the European Union, and so the only supplier of medical cannabis in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.

Recreational marijuana, in contrast with medical marijuana, is not legal but is never the less available to anyone in the Netherlands who can prove they are over 18. Surprisingly, with the medical program in place, a growing number of medical patients still rely on coffeeshops to obtain their medicine.

Several Dutch Health Insurance companies took medical cannabis out of their package in 2016 and no longer cover the costs, causing more patients to look to the coffeeshop as an alternative. The mayor of Amsterdam, together with unsatisfied patients have called for better policy that makes medical cannabis easier to get.

Amsterdam Mayor: “Medical Marijuana Should Be Easier To Get.”

In a letter addressed to the Dutch senate, the Mayor of Amsterdam, Van Der Laan, reiterated that medical cannabis should be easier to get for patients.

Last September, Van der Laan notably lent his support to Rudolf Hillebrand, an Amsterdam AIDS patients who uses medical cannabis, and who’s house and medical garden is threatened by the housing corporation, Eigenhaard.

The Mayor suggests that consultation should take place between the parties involved, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, with aim to make a clear and sensible policy, obviously beneficial for the patients.

The new Dutch coalition government is currently under reformation, and considering the details of policies that will effect regulation of medical cannabis cultivation, and the coffeeshop supply chain, among other issues.

Cannabidiol (CBD), what is it?

Cannabidiol CBD is one of the active compounds found in Cannabis. CBD has a wide scope of potential medical applications and is used as a remedy for a growing amount of ailments including MS, arthritis, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, and other neurological disorders.

CBD has many health benefits, but unlike its better known counterpart, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), it lacks the psychoactive effect associated with cannabis.

With CBD available in increasing strenghts and with a wide range of CBD products on the market including food, candy, drinks and body care products, there are now many ways people can try this cannabis extract and receive its benefits.