Israel: Health Ministry Heads Look At Medical Cannabis Reform Up Close

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

They didn’t go to buy, just to look. Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and his director-general, economist Moshe Bar Siman Tov, toured a Jerusalem pharmacy on Sunday that is authorized to supply medical cannabis by prescription to patients who need it to relieve pain and for other serious conditions.

“I am glad that we succeeded in implementing the medical cannabis reform,” Litzman said. “The move will prevent suffering from those who are required to use this medically [and] deal with the unnecessary bureaucracy that exists in the field.”

Litzman, who was accompanied by Yuval Landshaft, director of the ministry’s medical cannabis unit, added, “Cannabis is a drug, so this is not a legalization for all but a practical arrangement for patients who have received special permission. We will continue to fight leakage and will not allow those who do not have legal authorization to use drugs as required by law. With regard to the price, we intend to supervise to prevent price rises.”

Bar Siman Tov added, “The reform is progressing, and we will make it easier for patients to obtain medical cannabis… The geographical distribution of the pharmacies will grow as quickly as possible at the end of the initial pilot period.” Until now, licensees often had to go to distant suppliers to get the drug.

As part of the pilot program, patients with medical cannabis licenses will be able to go to any of 25 pharmacies around the country that are participating in the program and obtain medical cannabis by prescription. The drug will be sold as green leaves in a bag, as oil or in the form of tablets.

After approving the program last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put the reform on hold, reportedly by demand from the White House, but pressure from Israeli patients and growers apparently won out.