Israel Medical Association slams Knesset bill to allow all doctors to prescribe marijuana

Chairman of IMA sends letter to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni expressing worry drug would end up in hands of recreational users.

Marijuana leaf370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Marijuana leaf370
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Israel Medical Association voiced strong opposition to a private members’ bill that would allow every physician, including general practitioners, to give patients prescriptions for medical cannabis.
IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman sent a letter on Thursday to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni about the bill, due to be discussed in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday. The bill was introduced by Likud MKs Haim Katz and Moshe Feiglin.
In his letter, Eidelman said that marijuana is registered by the state as a “dangerous drug,” illegal to possess and use except for specific medical uses in seriously ill patients. A license to consume it is given only when no other treatment has been helpful. Only a small number of medical experts today are allowed to prescribe it, due to the risk that it will reach the hands of non-patients for “recreational uses.”
Current medical knowledge has not yet made it possible to expand the authority to all physicians to prescribe medical marijuana, the IMA chairman said. “In the medical literature as well, there is an argument whether it should even be considered a drug.
There is no clear standardization about the dosage, concentration and type of drug delivery suitable for medical marijuana.”
In addition, Eidelman said, cannabis is not registered in the Health Ministry as a drug, and its efficacy and safety for most medical uses are as yet unproven.
The bill, Eidelman wrote, involves individual general practitioners, who will be forced to cope with patient demands for its use as a “magic medicine” to replace all other medications, which is not correct.
“We often hear of family doctors who are threatened with verbal and even physical violence if they do not prescribe medical marijuana,” he said. “This situation is insufferable, and the bill will only make it worse. This proposal will produce a dangerous jump and turn medical marijuana into an accessible product that could endanger the public, who would not receive better and more suitable treatment, and it would put patients as well as doctors at risk.”