Israel already has a robust and widespread medical cannabis program for its citizens, although bureaucracy and red tape have been overly oppressive. But that’s hopefully about to change.
Patients in Israel who have cancer, IBS and other bowel issues, and Parkinson’s are entitled to apply for a medical cannabis permit directly from the Ministry of Health. It can take more than a year for a new patient to be approved, mainly because until now, the process had many steps and needed special approval that only a handful of doctors were able to provide. That’s mostly because cannabis has been classed as a dangerous drug officially and has been subject to criminal proceedings, fines and even jail time.
Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has always been opposed to legalizing cannabis in Israel. He does, however, understand that it helps a lot of people who could otherwise be taking opioids and other dangerous medications from doctors, instead of an all-natural, herbal solution. Litzman told reporters last Thursday that he intends to expand the medical cannabis program and to cut out some of the red tape.
The change will mean that instead of needing to meet with a specialist doctor and attend a designated center to collect the medication, medical cannabis and CBD will soon be available for pick up at participating pharmacies for patients with a prescription.
The new reform will cover people suffering from a range of illnesses treatable with cannabis, who are over 18 and require no more than 40 grams a month. For their part, the Ministry of Health is currently drafting guidelines as to how the new process will work; due to be released to the public in the coming weeks.
The other exciting change in official Israeli government policy is that CBD and CBD products will be released from the Drug Ordinance, and thus, according to the report, “Products that do not include THC (such as products containing CBD alone) will be excluded from the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.” That means that the production or import of CBD, as long as there’s no THC inside, will be completely legal.
In the words of Minister Litzman, according to the Israeli cannabis.com site, “I have decided to adopt the position of professionals in the Health Ministry to allow a prescription instead of a license for certain medical conditions for which diagnosis is clear. I emphasize that this is not legalization and that a person who is not medically allowed to use it will not be able to receive the drug at the pharmacy. But this is a process that will make it easier for bureaucratic procedures to be made available to the sick public,” he said.
At the same time, the director general of the Ministry of Health, Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, said, “Israel is leading the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This step is another step in relieving patients and turning medical cannabis into a medical product like any other product. We will continue to monitor the application and make it easier for patients while ensuring that those who need to receive the easiest way. “
While it remains to be seen how the technical details of this bureaucratic reform will pan out, it’s excellent news for Israeli patients who want to medicate with cannabis or CBD. It could also pave the way for other countries to consider improving their medical cannabis programs too.
Whatever the case may be, there’s a strong tide of cannabis legalization in the world today, as big pharma exerts as much pressure as they can to keep natural remedies like cannabis off the shelves and to keep them packed with money-making and addictive alternatives.