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Medical Marijuana In Israel

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Police: Importing medical marijuana would curb illegal use


07/20/2011 04:30


6,000 patients a year now request, receive medical marijuana, but predictions say number of authorizations could reach 40,000 in 2016.



Medical marijuana might best be supplied to authorized patients as part of the basket of health services determined by the Health Ministry and raised by local growers rather than imported, Knesset Anti-Drug Committee chairman MK Taleb a- San’a said on Tuesday.


Currently, medical marijuana is supplied exclusively by local growers, but the Israel Police would prefer it be imported to more carefully monitor it and prevent illegal use, which it said has been a problem.


But in a discussion on institutionalizing the provision of the drug, which is known to reduce pain and other symptoms of serious diseases, the chairman said that local supplies allowed the authorities to increase supervision of marijuana and reduce the “leaking out” of marijuana to illegitimate drug users.


Howard Rice, former chairman of the Israel Pharmacy Association, said there would be no problem for pharmacists to issue medical marijuana in their establishments.


“Even today, we keep potential dangerous and addictive drugs in pharmacies.


To require suffering patients to travel to authorized agricultural growers” is unnecessary, he insisted. At present, provision of the drug is supervised and authorized to specific patients by Dr. Yehuda Baruch of the Abarbanel State Mental Health Center in Bat Yam.


There are now 6,000 patients a year who request and receive medical marijuana, but predictions are that the number of authorizations could reach 40,000 in 2016.


MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) attacked plans to prevent the continuation of growing medical marijuana in Israel and to allow it only to be imported. “It can’t be that one law will allow patients to use medical cannabis and at the same time another law that bars growing it here,” the MK said.


Rav-Pakad Arela Knaffo of the Israel Police said he knew of cases in which family members of patients who were authorized to receive medical marijuana continued to acquire the drug after the patient had died. There are also cases of authorized growers who illegally keep marijuana in their homes – apparently for their own use or for others‚ she said, adding that only importing marijuana would allow better supervision by the law authorities. Knaffo recommended canceling the drivers licenses of medical marijuana users so they don’t cause road accidents.


The ministry’s Motti Mashiah insisted that it was impossible to allow cannabis to be supplied in pharmacies while it is still defined as a “dangerous drug” that is illegal to others.


He added that farmers could also not supply cannabis directly to legal users, “just as Teva Pharmaceuticals doesn’t sell medications directly to patients.”


Mendy Leighton of the Association for the Struggle Against Pain said the fact that certain amounts of medical marijuana have to be protected by Brinks security guards, an expense paid for by the patients‚ was unfair, as pharmacies keep no-less-dangerous drugs inside without having any special security.


MK Rachel Adatto (Kadima), who is a trained physician, said the market for medical marijuana should not be opened to foreign imports because it would significantly raise prices compared to local supplies.


“Patients should not have to think about which cannabis to buy [more cheaply],” she said.


A representative of the growers said they are willing to have security guards stationed in the fields if this allows them to grow and market the product.


The quality of Israeli medical cannabis is among the best in the world, said Alex Barak of the National Committee for Medical Marijuana Users. “The amount of security that the police demand is more severe than in nuclear reactors,” he said.


Barak added that the ministry sometimes cancels authorization for patients even if they have not yet been cured.


There are only five physicians in the country with the power to authorize medical marijuana for children who have cancer, said Esther Azulay, who takes care of such patients. “This creates impossible situations for patients who beg to get the drug for their children but the doctor is abroad and nobody replaced him,” she said.




Future of medical marijuana in Israel up for gov’t debate


07/15/2011 06:27


Government expected to decide on establishing a state agency which will be responsible for authorizing, processing requests for medical cannabis.



In two weeks, the government will decide whether to establish a state agency responsible for the authorization and processing of requests for medical marijuana for relieving patients with pain that responds to no other treatment.


At a conference on Wednesday at Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem, Dr. Yehuda Baruch, a psychiatrist at the Abarbanel Mental Health Center in Bat Yam who has in the last two years single-handedly been responsible for the matter, predicted the number of authorizations could reach 40,000 in five years.



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Currently, only 6,000 patients a year request and receive medical marijuana.


The event was attended by Health Ministry officials, doctors and Hebrew University’s Prof. Raphael Mechoullam, the researcher who discovered the structure of the active ingredient in cannabis that relieves chronic pain.


There is debate in the government over whether to allow local, supervised growers to continue growing it or to import high-quality marijuana.


The process must be strictly supervised to prevent marijuana from “leaking out” to drug users who have not been authorized to use it.


Most of the patients suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases involving serious chronic pain.


Prof. Elyad Davidson, head of Hadassah’s pain unit, said clinical studies have shown long-term side effects from medical cannabis-use are controversial and not clear.


Among the possible effects are addiction, psychosis and “gradiating” to more serious drugs. It is still not known, said Davidson, whether new forms of taking medical cannabis, including in the form of oil and cookies – are as effective as conventional means, such as smoking it.




Israel to grow medical cannabis to keep down prices


07/29/2011 05:04


Health Ministry to launch new unit to oversee production in 2012; imports would be tenfold more expensive.



Dr. Ronni Gamzi, director-general of the Health Ministry, decided on Thursday to establish a unit within the ministry to manage the supervision and supply of medical marijuana and to serve as an agency for this purpose according to the demands of an international agreement on the subject.


The unit will begin operating in January, 2012.



Police: Importing medical marijuana would curb illegal use

Future of medical marijuana in Israel up for gov’t debate


It was also decided that medical cannabis will continue to be grown in Israel for at least two years, because imports would be tenfold more expensive.


The head of the unit will be chosen in a public tender according to his or her management experience, but a medical degree is not required. The ministry unit will include a medical and logistical branch that will function in cooperation with other relevant ministries, Gamzu said.


Until now, authorization for the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain and provide other relief for patients – adults and children – with severe illness has been supervised and authorized for specific patients by Dr. Yehuda Baruch, a psychiatrist at the government’s Abarbanel State Mental Health Center in Bat Yam.


Currently, medical marijuana is supplied exclusively by local growers to some 6,000 patients authorized by Baruch, but there are predictions that doctor and patient satisfaction is so high that the number could reach 40,000 in 2016.


Members of the Israel Pharmacists Association have been pressing for permission to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients through their pharmacies. Although the Israel Police has urged that supplies be imported rather than locally grown because customs agents could minimize their reaching illicit users, the ministry decided that in the near future, no imports would be allowed.

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Marijuana component may ease pain from chemo therapy drugs


10/13/2011 22:27


Researchers find that 2nd most abundant chemical found in marijuana plant completely prevents onset of nerve pain caused by chemo drug used to treat breast cancer.

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A chemical component of the marijuana plant could prevent the onset of pain associated with drugs used in chemo therapy, particularly in breast cancer patients, according to researchers at Temple University’s School of Pharmacy.


The researchers developed animal models and tested the ability of the compound cannabidiol, which is the second most abundant chemical found in the marijuana plant, to relieve chemo-induced neuropathic pain, said Sara Jane Ward, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Temple’s School of Pharmacy and the study’s lead author.


“We found that cannabidiol completely prevented the onset of the neuropathic, or nerve pain caused by the chemo drug Paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast cancer,” said Ward, who is also a research associate professor in Temple’s Center for Substance Abuse Research.


Ward said that one of cannabidiol’s major benefits is that, unlike other chemicals found in marijuana such as THC, it does not produce psycho-active effects such as euphoria, increased appetite or cognitive deficits. “Cannabidiol has the therapeutic qualities of marijuana but not the side effects,” she said.


Ward’s research has long focused on systems in the brain that are impacted by marijuana and whether those systems could be targeted in the treatment of various disorders. “Marijuana binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the body and researchers have long been interested in whether there is therapeutic potential for targeting this receptor system,” she said.


Ward became interested in this current study after attending a conference in which she learned about a pain state that is induced by chemo-therapeutic agents, especially those used to treat breast cancer, which can produce really debilitating neuropathic pain.


Cannabidiol has also demonstrated the ability to decrease tumor activity in animal models, said Ward, which could make it an effective therapeutic for breast cancer, especially if you “combined it with a chemo agent like Paclitaxel, which we already know works well.”


According to Ward, there are currently about 10 clinical trials underway in the United States for cannabidiol on a range of different disorders, including cannabis dependence, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Because of this, she believes it will be easier to establish a clinical trial for cannabidiol as a therapeutic against neuropathic pain associated with chemo drugs.


In addition to Ward, Temple researchers involved in the study included Michael David Ramirez, Harshini Neelakantan and Ellen Ann Walker. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Peter F. McManus Charitable Trust.


This article was first published at www.newswise.com

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