More rules to solve the medical cannabis crisis in Israel


Faced with the serious cannabis crisis, the Minister of Health announces the implementation of new standards for medical marijuana

Cannabis crisis. At the beginning of July 2019, the Minister of Health of Israel announced the creation of a package of measures to facilitate access to medical cannabis for patients. Because the reality is that it is currently very restricted. And the worst is that users do not believe that the new system will improve patient access.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Ya’acov Litzman, says that the Ministry is very attentive to the needs of patients who need medical marijuana and will do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of patients. In order to improve the conditions of the sick, the Ministry has announced the implementation of the new measures.

What stands out most about the new measures is the regulation of marijuana prices. The supervision will be done by a committee created for this purpose and that will be composed of representatives of the ministries of finance and economy.

According to a statement from the Ministry, patients will begin to pay less than what they paid with the previous system for medical cannabis. The main objective is to establish a fixed payment for child patients and cancer patients. This payment is fixed and is independent of the amount of cannabis they use.

On the other hand, the doctor’s visit prices prescribed by the license to obtain medical cannabis can never be higher than an amount that ranges between 70 and 80 Euros. Because until now doctors could charge as much as they wanted. Unfortunately, this measure is still awaiting approval by the ministries of finance and economy.

Although the Ministry announced the new rules for licensing last April, those patients who have licenses prior to this date may benefit from the new situation. And until January of the year 2020, child patients and patients with autism can choose whether to move to the new system or continue with the old.

One of the most commented measures of the new system is the so-called “prescription fractures”. This new measure means that patients can buy the amount of marijuana prescribed in several pharmacies and in different periods. With the previous system they had to buy all the marijuana prescribed in the same pharmacy.

Apparently the new measures are very good. Why do not they convince medical cannabis users who have experience in this sector?

A medical marijuana user named SG has been using cannabis for the past year to relieve the pain of ankylosing spondylitis. SG does not believe that the new system will improve access to medical cannabis by patients.

SG begins by giving an opinion on the limitation of the prices of visits to public hospitals to obtain the license that allows buying medicinal cannabis. The issue is that with the previous system the visits already had a price limit. Those who charge excessively high prices are private doctors and with the new system the situation will remain the same.

The first time SG visited a doctor to access the cannabis license `he paid around 500 Euros. It is strange that medical cannabis does not have some kind of government subsidy in Israel.

For this it is necessary to classify medicinal cannabis as a medicine and it must be in what the public health system calls “the basket of health”, which implies that cannabis is subsidized by the Ministry of Health.

It is of great importance that the Ministry of Health facilitates access to medical cannabis. But it is even more important that it guarantees the quality of the marijuana that is given to the patients.

There is a report signed by 50 patients in which they complain that their cannabis bags were “contaminated with mold”. Marijuana was purchased from one of Israel’s leading medical cannabis suppliers. In addition, the cannabis flowers were too dry and gave off a strange smell.

In relation to the possibility of being able to buy cannabis in different pharmacies, the problem is that the supply of cannabis in Israel is too limited and, therefore, patients have to go searching in many pharmacies to be able to buy all the marijuana they need. . With which, the problem lies in the lack of medical marijuana and not in the possibility of being able to buy in different pharmacies.

It is not a question of offering to be able to buy in different pharmacies. The problem is that there is nothing marijuana in the pharmacies of Israel at the moment. SG tells his experience and tells you that you go to any pharmacy and do not have marijuana. Call other pharmacies by phone and when you finally find one that does, when you get to buy it, they do not fit. The shortage is tremendous right now in the whole country.

Shay Arad, a well-known business advisor to medical cannabis companies, says it is vital that the Ministry of Health listen to medicinal cannabis patients to learn more about the real problems they have.

The opinion of Shay Arad the problems of medicinal cannabis users in Israel are so many that the Ministry of Health has to start moving at great leaps instead of step by step, as it is doing at present. The authorities have to be aware of the pain of the patients and act accordingly. The Ministry of Health has to get feedback from what patients say to implement the measures needed by medical cannabis in Israel.

Who is to blame for the medical marijuana shortage in Israel?

David Pappo, president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Israel and owner of the Tlalim Pharmacy in Ramle, expressed his point of view with very harsh words. It is frustrating for a patient who needs a quantity of cannabis not to be able to receive it after 40 phone calls, or just to get four of the 40 grams he needs for the whole month.

David Pappo complains that his pharmacy has not been able to sell medicinal cannabis for 3 weeks and that he received up to 100 calls a day from patients who needed marijuana.

Until last March, Israelis who had recipes that allowed them to use medical marijuana could only buy it directly from a few authorized growers. Now you can also buy it in pharmacies.

About 25 pharmacies are licensed to sell medicinal cannabis to 28,000 registered users.

Pappo also complained that growers who supply medical cannabis to pharmacies often sell marijuana contaminated with mold, fungi and traces of pesticides.

However, growers deny responsibility for the scarcity and contamination of marijuana. Gil Hovesh, executive director of Pharmocann, whose company does not supply pharmacies, called liars to members of the pharmacy association.

Gil Hovesh blamed the shortage of cannabis on the fact that at this stage, only two of the eight companies, Breath of Life and Seach, now licensed to sell medical marijuana can sell to pharmacies. Your company Pharmocann expects to obtain permission in August, at which time growers lose the right to sell to users directly.

Another medicinal cannabis grower also blames pharmacies for the shortage. He said that pharmacies do not have enough security facilities to store medicinal cannabis and that they do not have enough caution when selling their products.

In addition, most pharmacies only have a small safe, so they are not in a position to inventory medical marijuana from 4-5 suppliers.

The Ministry of Health still does not recognize what is known as the “entourage effect”, where THC reaches its maximum potential when combined with hundreds of other cannabinoids.

This implies that a variety of cannabis has a beneficial effect on one patient, but may not have it in another since the relationship of THC with the other cannabinoids is not adequate for his/her disease.

With so many problems, it seems that the new measures of the Ministry of Health will not solve the deep crisis of medical cannabis in Israel.

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