Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Many have heard about the recreational use of marijuana in Amsterdam, and that’s because the Netherlands allows medical marijuana. While it’s easier to access medical marijuana in the Netherlands compared to other countries, patients should keep certain regulations in mind.
Doctors can prescribe medical marijuana for any condition if they think that it will have more benefits than previously tried medications. But, the national Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC) provides an official list of indications they believe have enough scientific evidence to warrant a prescription, like:
As scientists do more research on medical cannabis, the OMC will likely add more conditions to this list.
The Netherlands does not require patients to join a government program to receive medical cannabis. Instead, patients can receive a prescription, just like they would for any other medication. They then take the prescription to a pharmacy to get the medicine prescribed to them.
To get a prescription for medical marijuana, you must consult with a doctor who’s open to the idea of prescribing it. You may have a better chance of receiving a prescription if you deal with one of the indications highlighted by the OMC. However, you could still qualify if your doctor approves.
The OMC leaves judgment up to doctors. Keep in mind, physicians will only prescribe cannabis to patients who have tried standard treatments to no avail or with too many side effects.
According to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, about 1200 patients receive medical marijuana through pharmacies. But, they expect the number of people who use cannabis for medicinal purposes to be much higher. In many cases, illegal cannabis and weed sold at coffee shops costs less than medical marijuana.
Although the Netherlands technically considers recreational marijuana use illegal, officials usually only seize drugs from folks who have less than five grams. People over 18 can access Dutch coffee shops, where you can buy and use cannabis in an environment tolerated by the law. The marijuana you can get at coffee shops tends to be cheaper than medical marijuana from a pharmacy.
Dutch regulations allow insurance companies to make their own policies regarding medical cannabis. So, your insurance may or may not cover the cost of your medicine. Unfortunately, many insurance companies stopped providing coverage in 2017 in response to a major company discontinuing it.
The Netherlands has already decriminalized marijuana. So, medical marijuana patients don’t have to worry about legal prosecution as much as patients in other countries do. But, if they have more than five grams of medication at a time, their prescription protects them from any fines or prison sentences they would otherwise face.
Prescriptions also protect patients from having their medicine taken by the police if they have more than five grams. Patients worried about their medication being taken away can use their prescription as proof they have legal access to it. This especially helps people who can’t leave home without their medicine.
Here at MarijuanaDoctors.com, we help patients get access to the cannabis medicine they need to live their lives to the fullest. Check out our blog for the latest medical marijuana news and updates worldwide, including the Netherlands. Our resource library can answer any questions you have about the world of medical marijuana.