A marijuana leaf.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Knesset lobby for the use of medical cannabis has been established with Likud MK Sharren Haskel at its head, it was announced on Thursday.
“It has become accepted that medical cannabis has significant health benefits and an important place in the development of the world of medicine,” Haskel said, “but there are many impediments to its use. The trend is to limit this development, even though there are many seriously ill patients who need it.”
Israel is a leader in cannabis research for medical uses.
“This [the impediments to use] harms the huge economic potential for the Israeli economy,” the lobby said. “Only recently, it was publicized that the medical cannabis market can add 3,000 workplaces and bring in more than NIS 200 million in taxes and, in fact, save the collapsing agricultural sector.”
Some 23,000 patients are treated legally with medical cannabis to ameliorate their pain and improve their conditions, but tens of thousands more need it, Haskel maintained. “But, according to a growing number of media reports, as medical marijuana is considered a ‘dangerous drug,’ many patients’ rights are harmed due to red tape and the establishment ignoring the recommendations of medical teams. Some patients are even prevented from driving and limited in their freedom of movement.”
The establishment of the lobby is good news for tens of thousands of Israelis, the MK continued, as it aims at changing the establishment’s attitude toward cannabis as a medication. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the economy, and it will prevent the brain drain to Western countries where the field is already very developed.”
Gil Luxenbourg, chairman of the Israel Medical Cannabis Association that was involved in establishing the lobby, congratulated Haskel and said: “We will be able to continue and with joint effort advance medical cannabis for all patients who need it to function and enjoy a higher quality of life.”
An official ceremony to launch the lobby will be held in the Sprinzak Hall of the Knesset at 10 a.m. on Monday. MKs, senior physicians and Haskel will be among those attending.