The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee instructed the Health Ministry on Tuesday to complete within four months its proposals for regulating the use of marijuana (cannabis) for medicinal purposes.
Patients suffering from severe pain from cancer, multiple sclerosis or certain other conditions can apply for a license to obtain free a supply of pure marijuana strains for smoking to relieve their pain.
The committee, headed by MK Haim Katz, said that medical marijuana should not become too costly for the suffering patient to purchase. A detailed bill to regulate medical marijuana would supervise the production, quality and marketing of the product and prevent the drug from reaching illegal users or merchants.
At present, medical marijuana licenses are approved for the ministry by Dr. Yehuda Baruch, director-general of Abarbanel Mental Health Center. He told the committee that the issue involves a number of difficult problems, such as depending on a single supplier who grows marijuana for charitable purposes.
As the number of would-be users is expected to grow significantly, the terms for use, cultivation and distribution of the plant must be set down in law, he said.
While the ministry wants to give medical cannabis to patients who really need it, the Israel Police is worried that it could reach the hands of criminals.
The Tikun Olam company supplies pure cannabis to 700 patients suffering from serious pain, and it does so on a non-profit charitable basis, but company head Perry Klein said expanding production significantly would be a burden on the enterprise.
Tal Mark, a patient with a license to smoke medical marijuana, said he has used it for a year, during which he has stopped taking a long list of painkillers that pose serious side effects.
The quality of his life, said Mark, has greatly improved, and he functions much better than before.