|Israel is one of the first countries to permit the use of medical marijuana.|
Twenty patients in an Israeli hospital have been treated with medical marijuana in the first program of its kind in the Mideast nation.
Head Nurse Ora Shamai of the pain management program at Sheba Medical Center in the town of Tel Hashomer recently drafted a formal protocol for administering cannabis to patients. The document has already been approved by the Health Ministry’s Dr. Yehuda Baruch, and is expected to soon win final approval from the hospital.
According to the protocol, if a patient needs marijuana, the doctor in charge of treatment will help secure the necessary permit from the Health Ministry. Patients who are able to walk will smoke their joints in the hospital’s smoking room, while bedridden patients will be allowed to smoke in private rooms, near an open window.
“We make it clear to the staff that smoking medical marijuana doesn’t endanger the medical staff on the wards,” Shamai said. “It does not harm those in the area via passive smoking.”
As for concerns that smoking pot could hurt the patients themselves, “It’s certainly a dilemma, but it’s the lesser of two evils,” said Dr. Ita Gur-Arie, head of Sheba’s pain management unit. “When you’re talking about smoking a joint or two a day, we don’t think this causes short-term harm to the patients.”
Money to purchase vaporizers, which allow patients to inhale the active ingredients without the need for smoking, is being raised by the Israel Association for the Advancement of Medical Cannabis. Five vaporizers are already in use at the hsopital.
Israel, along with Holland, Germany, Canada, and 13 American states, is one of the first countries to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Sheba Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in the world to adopt a protocol to regulate the clinical use of the herb, according to Haaretz.com.