Up until now, it has been illegal to grow marijuana in the Netherlands, but a case decided Tuesday has opened a crack in the dike for patients. Although Holland's famous coffee shops provide retail cannabis sales with the acquiescence of the Dutch state, the country has never made any provision to bring the growers who supply the shops out of the black market. Similarly, although Holland allows for medical marijuana to be purchased at pharmacies, it did not allow patients to grow their own.
Until Tuesday, when, according to Agence France Presse, an appeals court in Leeuwarden in the northern Netherlands ruled that multiple sclerosis patient Wim Moorlag and his wife should not have been prosecuted for growing a crop that would provide him with 20 grams of marijuana a week. Although a lower court had found the Moorlags guilty of illegal cultivation (and fined them $314), the appeals court held that Moorlag's right to try to alleviate pain connected with his disease overrode the state's interest in banning marijuana cultivation.
Moorlag had argued that he could not buy marijuana from coffee shops because it could contain fungi and bacteria especially dangerous for MS sufferers.
Moorlag's attorney, Wim Anker, told the Dutch ANP news agency the decision would have broad ramifications. "This means that other patients can also legally grow their own cannabis, not just MS patients but also people with AIDS," he said.
Dutch prosecutors, however, are not yet throwing in the towel. On Wednesday, they announced they had asked the Dutch Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision. "We introduced an appeals motion on Tuesday before the Supreme Court," said Marina Weel, spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in Leeuwaarden.