By / June 3, 2020

The reform on medical cannabis raises controversy in Israel

Senior physician Prof. Ido Wolf, director of the Ichilov Oncology Department and head of the National Council for the Prevention and Treatment of Malignant Diseases, argues that medical cannabis reform is causing economic, health, and mental damage to thousands of patients.

According to Prof. Wolf. he came to this conclusion after a full year of careful examination of the “medicalization” reform, under which all medical cannabis patients, including cancer patients, went through the pharmacies only on a monthly basis.

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Israeli doctor highlights the issues faced by his patients

First of all, he elaborated. “Fixed degrees of $104 (NIS 360), the price jumped up to six times. For cancer patients who receive regular high doses, this is an unbearable economic burden. I know patients who take out loans and break down savings to buy the cannabis-based treatment they need, at the new price, which now also reaches thousands of shekels a month. You must hurry and correct the distortion and return the cost to a fixed and equal price for everyone.”

“The other thing that comes from conversations with my patients is the quality and effectiveness of cannabis, which they say has been significantly impaired,” he added. “Patients complain that the new compounds are less concentrated and effective. Our oncology team has had to spend many hours trying to re-determine the appropriate strains and doses for each patient.”

The third problem, according to Prof. Wolf, is the lack of varieties and availability of pharmacies. “Our patients are busy chasing the few pharmacies that hold the varieties they consume,” he wrote. “A patient of mine even testified to me that he had to travel from Beer Sheva to Raanana to get to the branch that holds the stock he needed. This causes a great deal of difficulty for patients who are forced to purchase varieties in the existing stock even if they are not suitable for them.”

Cannabis is causing a controversy in Israel

In conclusion, he called on the new Minister of Health, MK Yuli Edelstein, and his new deputy MK Yoav Kish and incoming office director Prof. Hezi Levy, to address the problems as soon as possible and resolve the problematic issues: “I call MK Yuli Edelstein the Minister of Health and MK Yoav Kish, his deputy, and Prof. Hezi Levy, the office’s CEO, to handle the medical cannabis issue as soon as possible and provide an immediate response to tens of thousands of patients in Israel who have long been suffering from very problematic care and service. I personally have them available for advancing the important goal and correcting the current situation as soon as possible.”

In response to the announcement, Deputy Minister of Health MK Kish replied that “You raise important points that require immediate treatment and response. There are other issues related to any subject of reform beyond the issues you have mentioned. I would like to inform you that I spoke with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein who sees the importance of addressing this issue and asked me to be directly responsible for the issue and to lead the problem solving. I know the topic more closely from my previous Knesset activity and promise that I will immediately come in to lead the Ministry of Health in addressing the issues. I’d love to meet you soon, I’ll take care of that.”

In a study conducted by Professor Wolf in the past, 83% of cancer patients were satisfied with their cannabis-based treatment.


(Featured image by Darko Stojanovic via Pixabay)

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