Early last week, the Israeli government officially conceded that there is a medical necessity for cannabis and approved medical marijuana guidelines intended to regulate the country's production of pot for both medicinal and research purposes.
This acknowledgment comes three years after the Israeli Health Ministry approved the limited use of medical marijuana in 2008. The government’s most recent actions follow the Israeli Health Ministry’s July 29 decision to create a specific unit intended to serve as an agency supervising the supply of domestically produced medical marijuana.
In deciding to only produce medical marijuana internally for at least two more years – no imported weed – the Health Ministry defied the will of Israeli police who sought to import the pot to avoid the drug being diverted to the black market.
Currently, private (domestic) cultivators provide medi-pot for both adult and child patients after being approved for use by Dr. Yehuda Baruch, psychiatrist at Abarbanel State Mental Health Center. That’s right – one man oversees all the medical marijuana patients in Israel, an estimated six thousand at present. However, those numbers are expected to expand dramatically in the next five years – to at least 40,000 – due to the program’s popularity with both patients and Dr. Baruch, and also now with the government stamp of approval.
The Israeli Pharmacists Association has lobbied the government to allow medicinal cannabis to be distributed through their pharmacies, and after seeing the bucks medical marijuana dispensaries in California and Colorado rake in, it’s hard to blame them for wanting a piece of the medical marijuana pie, especially in light of the expected increase in pot patients across the nation.
The new medical marijuana agency of the Israeli Health Ministry will commence operations at the beginning of 2012.