Supreme Court allows MS patient to grow cannabis
Supreme Court allows MS patient to grow cannabis. Drug alleviates symptoms of crippling disease.
The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that a man who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) may grow his own cannabis for medical purposes. He wants to grow his own because the type of medical cannabis sold in pharmacies does not help his symptoms.
Four years ago the police came to Wim Moorlag's home and seized 43 home-grown plants. His lawyer Wim Anker says "It is really a disgrace how the law has treated this man. It is beyond comprehension that he has spent four years in the legal pipeline." Photo: Cannabis plants
The same as many other MS patients, Wim Moorlag uses cannabis to alleviate his pain. Although it is illegal to grow cannabis in the Netherlands, the authorities usually turn a blind eye when people cultivate five plants or less. However an exception has been made for medical cannabis, which must be sold under license - for the past five years medical cannabis has been available at pharmacies.
Two years ago a court in Leeuwarden dismissed all charges against Moorlag because it found he acted out of necessity in circumstances beyond his control. The Supreme Court used the same reasoning: MS patients are faced with a paradox. On the one hand the need to alleviate pain and on the other the ban on cultivating cannabis.
The Supreme Court argued that Moorlag's choice to cultivate cannabis was the right decision because of the benefits to his health. Moorlag cannot purchase cannabis at a coffeeshop because there is no guarantee of the quality of the cannabis and there is a risk that it has been treated with pesticides.
Lawyer Wim Anker says the Supreme Court ruling was "splendid" for Moorlag. However it is of no help to other MS patients. "The Supreme Court pronouncement was only relevant for the case of Wim Moorlag. If we want a lot of people to benefit, then we have to change the Opium Law."
Change the Opium Law
Democrat MP Boris van der Ham says he intends to propose an amendment to the Opium Law to allow patients to cultivate cannabis for their own use. Also, the five plants per individual that are quietly tolerated are not enough for medical use.
Moorlag can now get on with his life and hopes that other people will also be allowed to grow their own plants. However, he does not understand why the Public Prosecutor's Office appealed the dismissal of charges by the Leeuwarden court two years ago. He then would not have had to undergo another two years of legal proceedings.
19 September 2008