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German: More research needed on medical marijuana
By JUDY SIEGEL
03/12/2013
Health minister says Israel is in an intermediate period until adequate research is performed.
 
Heath Minister Yael German said this week that more research is needed on the effects of medical marijuana before allowing physicians to prescribe it.

After consulting with physicians and researchers in the field of psychiatry, pain, clinical pharmacology, gastroenterology and AIDS, German said the experts agree it is not a recognized drug and there are no standards about doses and treatment methods. There is also little scientific information on side effects, contra-indications and drug interactions or controlled studies on efficacy and damage from medical cannabis. The experts also stated that “while some patient groups report an improvement of their symptoms, including sleep and appetite, overuse of marijuana can lead to anxiety, outbreaks of anger and psychotic situations. Use can also interfere with driving and lead to road accidents.”

The forum said there has to be a separation between those who grow it and patient groups, and there is a need to standardize the product and set up locations for recognized distribution among approved patients. The growing demand for medical cannabis can also complicate the doctor-patient relationship, including long queues in clinics and frustrations and even violence by would-be users against doctors.

In addition, medical students are not being trained in the subject, and working physicians do not have the knowledge about how to treat patients with it. The medical system thus “does not have to serve as the gate for the process of legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.”

Many of those present at the meeting were concerned that the current situation could decline into a “slippery slope” in which the number of authorized users, who today number in the thousands, will grow out of control.

German summarized that “we are now in an intermediate period until adequate research into medical cannabis is performed. It should eventually be controlled while reducing pressure on doctors to prescribe it.”
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