Dutch medicinal cannabis is highly regarded worldwide and domestic and foreign demand is so great that Minister Ernst Kuipers wants to increase production and export and to broaden the legal possibilities to do so.
This is evident from a letter to the House of Representatives in which he states that he wants to advance the medical cannabis sector and that this requires policy expansion and ultimately an amendment to the Opium Act.
Dutch medicinal cannabis is produced within a closed chain. The Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis is responsible for the supply of cannabis flos to pharmacies at home and abroad and to wholesalers who supply these pharmacies. Kuipers wants to keep it that way because, according to him, BMC supplies a reliable product with a consistent quality and composition. According to Kuipers, producers abroad have more difficulty with this. BMC is currently unable to meet the high demand from abroad, due to the current production limitation and the export cap. Kuipers wants to delete both in order to be able to export more and to give more space to international cooperation, for example in the field of scientific research into medicinal cannabis.
In addition, Kuipers wants to make it easier to grow, process or trade medicinal cannabis if a demonstrable contribution is made to scientific research into the medical application of cannabis and drug production that benefits the patient and a number of requirements are met. Now that is only possible if an opium exemption has been granted by BMC, but that only happens in dribs and drabs. Kuipers wants to make that easier.
Kuipers points out that medicinal cannabis is currently not included in the basic package, because the National Health Care Institute has indicated that there is insufficient evidence for its effectiveness. Kuiper has commissioned ZonMw to conduct studies that may provide evidence of efficacy, such as a study into the effect of medicinal cannabis in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Finally, Kuipers emphasizes that recreational cannabis, as available in coffee shops, is not intended for medicinal use. His proposed policy changes therefore do not apply to recreational cannabis.