Jerusalem District Court Judge Nava Ben-Or last week rejected a challenge to aspects of the government’s current policy permitting the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
The decision, in favor of medical supplier Sarel Corporation as well as the Health Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and other related parties, was handed down Thursday, but was announced by the court on Sunday.
Ben-Or sat as an administrative judge on a petition by the Barak Corporation seeking that aspects of the cannabis policy be declared invalid. One was that the government failed to advertise properly the tender for which corporations would have a right to distribute cannabis and receive exemption from certain regulations.
Barak first said there was no proper advertising for the tender, then amended its objection to claim that it was apparently designed to cover up an insider process for picking Sarel and other winners.
The court rejected Barak’s claims, stating that most of its concerns about the impact of any advertising and policy problems were premature and have not yet occurred. It also noted Barak’s significant delay in making its objections.
A spokesman for Sarel said that Barak’s objections were phrased in the language of constitutional and principled objections, but that really Barak was fighting to maintain its position as a leading distributor of cannabis, with little competition and without having to meet new, higher industry standards.
The petition in dispute mostly referred to developments since 2011 and disputed the state granting special rights to Sarel and others at least through June 30, 2014.
The new policy is part of a push to bring Israel into line with requirements of a 1961 international convention on the issue.
Medical marijuana – smoked, baked into cookies, infused into oils, and consumed in other forms – is sought worldwide to ease the pain and suffering of patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and other diseases.
There are currently more than 14,000 authorized Israeli users; in four years, the figure is expected to triple. But only now are clinical trials on the positive and negative effects of medicinal cannabis being launched.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich contributed to this story.