Daily Israel Report

Top Israeli Doctor Against Medical Marijuana Expansion

Israel Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Idelman says he opposes a proposed law to expand medical marijuana use
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/17/2013, 5:20 PM

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In a letter to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel Medical Association Chairman Dr. Leonid Idelman, said that he and his organization were opposed to a proposed law that would allow Israeli doctors to freely prescribe medical marijuana.

The law would enable doctors, including family doctors, to prescribe medical marijuana based only on their own recommendations. Currently, all cases requiring medical marijuana must be presented before a Health Ministry committee, which has the final word on who is eligible to receive the marijuana.

In his letter, Idelman said that “marijuana is currently classified as a 'dangerous drug' in Israel. As such, its use is limited to specific cases in which no other treatments have been found effective, and only after all other possible treatments have been tried. The decision should remain in the hands of experts,” he said, because allowing large-scale use of medical marijuana would damage Israelis to a far greater extent that many suspect.

Some 11,000 Israelis are currently being treated with medical marijuana.

Among the Knesset members in favor of expanding the program is Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beyteinu), who said that he knows of a number of cases firsthand in which medical marijuana has helped relieve pain and assisted patients on the road to recovery. MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor) said that he had been receiving similar treatments for an extended medical condition, and that the treatment had helped a great deal.

Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) said that she wanted to ensure that medical marijuana was distributed to those who needed it. “On one hand, we will make sure the law is observed properly, and on the other, we will ensure that those who need treatment receive it,” she said.