Medical marijuana 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Medical marijuana might best be supplied to authorized patients as part of the
basket of health services determined by the Health Ministry and raised by local
growers rather than imported, Knesset Anti-Drug Committee chairman MK Taleb a-
San’a said on Tuesday.
Currently, medical marijuana is supplied
exclusively by local growers, but the Israel Police would prefer it be imported
to more carefully monitor it and prevent illegal use, which it said has been a
But in a discussion on institutionalizing the provision of the
drug, which is known to reduce pain and other symptoms of serious diseases, the
chairman said that local supplies allowed the authorities to increase
supervision of marijuana and reduce the “leaking out” of marijuana to
illegitimate drug users.
Howard Rice, former chairman of the Israel
Pharmacy Association, said there would be no problem for pharmacists to issue
medical marijuana in their establishments.
“Even today, we keep potential
dangerous and addictive drugs in pharmacies.
To require suffering
patients to travel to authorized agricultural growers” is unnecessary, he
insisted. At present, provision of the drug is supervised and authorized to
specific patients by Dr. Yehuda Baruch of the Abarbanel State Mental Health
Center in Bat Yam.
There are now 6,000 patients a year who request and
receive medical marijuana, but predictions are that the number of authorizations
could reach 40,000 in 2016.
MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) attacked plans to
prevent the continuation of growing medical marijuana in Israel and to allow it
only to be imported. “It can’t be that one law will allow patients to use
medical cannabis and at the same time another law that bars growing it here,”
the MK said.
Rav-Pakad Arela Knaffo of the Israel Police said he knew of
cases in which family members of patients who were authorized to receive medical
marijuana continued to acquire the drug after the patient had died. There are
also cases of authorized growers who illegally keep marijuana in their homes –
apparently for their own use or for others‚ she said, adding that only importing
marijuana would allow better supervision by the law authorities. Knaffo
recommended canceling the drivers licenses of medical marijuana users so they
don’t cause road accidents.
The ministry’s Motti Mashiah insisted that it
was impossible to allow cannabis to be supplied in pharmacies while it is still
defined as a “dangerous drug” that is illegal to others.
He added that
farmers could also not supply cannabis directly to legal users, “just as Teva
Pharmaceuticals doesn’t sell medications directly to patients.”
Leighton of the Association for the Struggle Against Pain said the fact that
certain amounts of medical marijuana have to be protected by Brinks security
guards, an expense paid for by the patients‚ was unfair, as pharmacies keep
no-less-dangerous drugs inside without having any special security.
Rachel Adatto (Kadima), who is a trained physician, said the market for medical
marijuana should not be opened to foreign imports because it would significantly
raise prices compared to local supplies.
“Patients should not have to
think about which cannabis to buy [more cheaply],” she said.
representative of the growers said they are willing to have security guards
stationed in the fields if this allows them to grow and market the
The quality of Israeli medical cannabis is among the best in the
world, said Alex Barak of the National Committee for Medical Marijuana Users.
“The amount of security that the police demand is more severe than in nuclear
reactors,” he said.
Barak added that the ministry sometimes cancels
authorization for patients even if they have not yet been cured.
are only five physicians in the country with the power to authorize medical
marijuana for children who have cancer, said Esther Azulay, who takes care of
such patients. “This creates impossible situations for patients who beg to get
the drug for their children but the doctor is abroad and nobody replaced him,”