Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire: Israel’s Medical Marijuana Debate Heats Up

The debate over medical marijuana use in Israel has gained momentum in recent weeks, as evidenced by the vociferous attacks on Health Minister Yael German’s Facebook page and the protests outside her home last week, as well as the Knesset Health Committee discussion on the subject on Monday.

That meeting ended with an announcement that 11 more doctors would be authorized to prescribe medical marijuana by the end of the year, bringing the total number of doctors authorized to prescribe the drug to 19 by year’s end.

After the health ministry began regulating medical marijuana, only the ministry’s medical cannabis unit was permitted to approve patient requests for the drug. In addition, eight oncologists from Sheba, Assaf Harofeh, Rambam and Rebecca Sieff hospitals were accredited to prescribe medical marijuana to cancer patients in an effort to shorten the waiting period for Health Ministry approval.

The ministry also said it intends to certify doctors outside of central Israel to directly prescribe marijuana treatment, including both oncologists and other specialist doctors.

The Health Ministry had previously refused a request by cancer and pain specialists to allow more doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients, Haaretz reported recently. However, the ministry backtracked on this, apparently due to growing public pressure.

Even a passing glimpse at Health Minister Yael German’s Facebook page illustrates how the ministry and the woman heading have been under attack. Each status posted by the minister, regardless of the subject, has been followed by a string of blistering comments on medical marijuana.

– Read the entire article at Haaretz.