Israel’s Knesset has given the green light to reforms enabling authorized patients to receive their medicinal marijuana supply at pharmacies.
JPost reports the government has also committed to boosting the number of doctors authorized to approve the legal supply of medical cannabis for qualifying patients. Additionally, patients will only require a legitimate prescription from an authorised doctor, rather than also needing a permit from the Health Ministry.
H’aaretz states there will also be no limit placed on the number of growers in the country and the criteria for gaining a license to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes will be far less stringent. Regulations on manufacturing and shipping cannabis products will also be loosened.
“The government decided today on an important reform, which I announced a few months ago,” said Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman. “The reform will do justice to thousands of patients who need medicinal cannabis for medical purposes only.”
Minster Litzman did stress that he remains firmly opposed to general legalisation.
A recent study of medical cannabis users in Israel found the vast majority of patients have reported experiencing benefits from their treatment.
Currently, around 23,000 Israelis are registered for the country’s medical cannabis program. It’s a significant number, but it’s often been said it would be much higher without the red tape; of which there is plenty at the present time.
It can take months for a patient to finish jumping through bureaucratic hoops and for someone in pain; that can be an eternity. Then after approval, sourcing the medications can be an onerous and expensive task. To add to the complexities, permits must be reapplied for every three to six months.
Sunday’s decision was by no means a stroll in the park. There’s been much debate about the program, some of it quite heated – particularly up until a year or so ago. However, as the benefits of medical cannabis become clearer and the potential challenges have proven to be manageable; Israel will continue in its progressive stance on this front and remain a world leader.
Earlier this year, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and an Australian trade mission visited Israel to learn more about the country’s medicinal cannabis experience.