Medical Cannabis. Official statements from the Dutch Government
Medical cannabis is now a mainstream alternative to the pharmaceutical industry. Cannabis is now available medically in much of the developed world and can be prescribed as a medicine widely in USA, Canada, South America and Europe.
Today Dutch Passion get more questions about the medical uses of cannabis than ever before. Rather than give our own opinions on this subject we prefer to give the official information provided by the Dutch Ministry of Health.
1. According to the Dutch Government what medical conditions can cannabis help with? *
“• pain and muscle spasms or cramps associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal
• nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss and debilitation due to cancer or AIDS;
• nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy used in the
treatment of cancer, hepatitis C or HIV infection and AIDS;
• chronic pain (mainly pain associated with the nervous system, for example that
caused by a damaged nerve, phantom pain, facial neuralgia or chronic pain which
remains after the recovery from shingles);
• Gilles de la Tourette syndrome;
• therapy-resistant glaucoma.
Patients and doctors have also reported positive effects on a range of other conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, epilepsy, itching, migraine, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, ADD and brain trauma. These positive effects still need to be confirmed by scientific research. (For more information, go to www.cannabis-med.org.)”
“At present, medicinal cannabis does not cure the disorders mentioned above,
but it can relieve the symptoms associated with them. It may also enable other medication to be given at a lower dosage, and reduce their side effects. It is up to doctors to determine whether treatment with medicinal cannabis would benefit a patient, given his or her diagnosis and circumstances. In doing so, they are not limited to the list of conditions given above. A doctor will only prescribe medicinal cannabis if the standard treatments and registered medicines are not having the desired effect or are causing too many side effects.”
*All information from page 5 of the 2015 Patients Information Booklet from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
2. What is the official Government information about Cannabis side-effects? **
“Patients generally tolerate medicinal cannabis well. A low dosage often provides sufficient relief, so that side effects rarely occur. When they do, it is usually the result of a high dosage or combined use with a substance such as alcohol that intensifies the side effects.
Known side effects of medicinal cannabis are mood-altering effects, insomnia and heart palpitations. Other effects are: relaxation, fits of laughter, feeling hungry, heightened sensitivity to the perception of e.g. colour and music, lethargy and distorted temporal and spatial awareness.
Your reaction time may also be slower, especially during the first hours after use.
If you take a large dose, you can get ‘high’. This is a feeling of euphoria which slowly subsides into feeling satisfied, peaceful and calm. The altered perception may cause you to feel confused. These effects usually disappear after a few hours.
If you have a genetic predisposition to psychosis (like schizophrenia) or other mental health problems, please consult your specialist before using medicinal cannabis. You should also consult your doctor if you are a cardiac patient.
Continuous use of cannabis during pregnancy can affect the foetus. Also, certain components of cannabis - like THC - end up in breast milk. That is why the use of medicinal cannabis is not advisable during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. For more information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Smoking cannabis regularly is bad for your health. Smoke damages the lungs and could lead to infections of the nose, throat and lungs. For this reason, smoking medicinal cannabis is not recommended. Instead, inhaling cannabis using a reliable vaporiser is a more suitable method.
Addiction is unlikely with cannabis used as a medicine. The recommended dose is usually lower than that for recreational use. “
**All information from page 6 of the 2015 Patients Information Booklet from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
3. What is the best way to use medical cannabis according to the official guidelines? ***
“Your doctor will determine, in consultation with you:
• Which variety would be most suitable
• What dosage you need
• How to take the medicinal cannabis
You will probably start with a low dosage (see ‘Instructions for use and dosage’). If the effect is insufficient, your doctor will gradually increase the dosage. No maximum dose has been determined. Your doctor can keep increasing the amounts of cannabis you take until an effective result is achieved. Therefore, the dose can vary from one cup of tea a week to several grams a day.”
“You can take medicinal cannabis in various ways. For example: prepared as tea or inhaled using a vaporiser. It is important for the effect to heat the cannabis before using it. We discourage smoking medicinal cannabis.”
“When inhaled, the active components of cannabis are absorbed quickly by the body. The maximum effect occurs within 15 minutes, and slowly wears off over three to four hours.
When medicinal cannabis is drunk as tea, it takes at least 30 to 90 minutes before any effects occur.”
***All information from page 7 of the 2015 Patients Information Booklet from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
4. Which is the safest way to consume cannabis according to the Dutch Government? ****
“To inhale medicinal cannabis we advise you to use a reliable vaporiser.
• The initial dose should be about 200 mg (1 teaspoon or 1⁄2 measuring scoop).
• Place this in the vaporiser, heat the cannabis, then inhale once.
• Wait 5 to 15 minutes before inhaling again.
• Repeat this a few times until the desired effect is achieved. Start by performing this procedure once or twice a day.
• It’s important that you gradually build up your intake.”
****All information from page 9 of the 2015 Patients Information Booklet from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
5. What advice does the Dutch Government give to the Doctors and Pharmacists ? *****
“In the last few decades the body’s own cannabinoid system has been identified. The discovery of this system, which comprises endocannabinoids and receptors, explains why cannabis has a positive effect on certain illnesses and conditions.
To date, two types of cannabinoid receptors have been identified: CB1 and CB2 receptors. The first type modulate pain.
The second type of receptors are peripheral, and found primarily in immune system cells (in the spleen in particular). They are probably responsible for the immunomodulatory effects of cannabinoids. “
***** All information from Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport website
After many years of regulation and observation the Dutch Government has made four types of cannabis available (page 4 f the PDF) Note how several different varieties with varying THC/CBD contents have been provided for different medical uses (table below). More details on the varieties are here
At Dutch Passion we think that anyone should be able to grow their own cannabis if they want to, for medical, or recreational purposes. If that is not an option for whatever reason it can be a good alternative to have access to medical cannabis through pharmacies. The Dutch Government has provided honest, transparent, scientifically based information for use by both Doctors and Patients.
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis ("Cannabis Bureau" in Dutch), is a department of the Ministry of Health Welfare and Sport of The Netherlands and is responsible for overseeing the production of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. All the quotes in this weeks blog come from their website. If you want to know more about the The Office of Medicinal Cannabis you can visit their website: https://www.cannabisbureau.nl/english
We hope this ‘official’ Government data is useful and interesting to cannabis users around the world, especially those in areas where medical cannabis is still illegal.