Dutch pharmacies expect prescriptions for medical marijuana to rise 45% this year, almost double the 25% rise recorded in previous years, according to pharmaceuticals statistics office SFK.
Medical marijuana is not an official medicine in the Netherlands and is not included in the basic health insurance policy. However, the five licenced brands on the Dutch market, produced by the Bedrocan company, are distributed via pharmacies.
In 2012, pharmacies filled some 11,000 prescriptions for medical marijuana but this year the figure is expected to be twice that. The number of users has also doubled from 2,000 to 4,000, the SFK said.
The agency did not explain why the number of prescriptions and users had gone up.
The Bureau for Medicinal Cannabis, the government department responsible for the production and supply of medical marijuana, says there is ‘sufficient scientific evidence’ that it is useful in the treatment of chronic pain, muscular sclerosis, glaucoma and loss of appetite.
However, researchers at the University of Maastricht said earlier this year the scientific evidence for the benefits of medical marijuana is of mixed quality and in some cases lacking altogether.
The researchers looked at 79 trials involving almost 6,500 people and found there is ‘moderate quality’ evidence to suggest medical marijuana relieves chronic pain. But the evidence that cannabinoids relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy and sleep disorders is of low quality, the researchers said.
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