Israel: Government Debates Future of Medical Marijuana


Photo: The Jerusalem Post

​The government of Israel is expected to decide on establishing a state agency which would be responsible for authorizing and processing requests for medical cannabis.

Currently, about 6,000 patients receive medical marijuana in Israel, reports Judy Siegel Itzkovich at the The Jerusalem Post. But the number of authorizations could reach 40,000 in five years, according to Dr. Yehuda Baruch, a psychiatrist at the Abarbanel Mental Health Center in Bat Yam who has, for the last two years, single-handedly been responsible for the matter.

Photo: Mianou
Dr. Yehuda Baruch

​Dr. Baruch made the prediction at a Wednesday conference at Hadassah-University Hospital which was attended by Health Ministry officials, doctors and Hebrew University’s Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, the researcher who discovered the structure of the cannabinoid in marijuana which helps relieve chronic pain.
There is debate within the Israeli government over whether to allow local, supervised growers to continue growing cannabis, or to import high-quality marijuana.
The process is strictly supervised, according to the Israelis, to prevent marijuana from “leaking out” to pot smokers who have not been medically authorized to use it.
Most Israeli medical marijuana patients suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases involving serious chronic pain.