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Health Minister Empowers Israeli GPs to Prescribe Medical Cannabis

(JNi.media) Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (Haredi UTJ party) announced on Monday that dispensing medical cannabis in Israel will become the domain of pharmacies.

“Even today, pharmacies give all sorts of other drugs such as morphine, and we will regulate this area, too. It will be registered and supervised, and it will be standardized, like medicine,” said Litzman during a meeting of the Knesset Committee to combat drug and alcohol abuse.

Litzman explained that the issue is being discussed these days at the Supreme Court because of a dispute among the drug growers, but expressed hope that it will be resolved soon.

“As soon as it will be in pharmacies, we’ll be sure to fight aggressively to not let it leak out,” Litzman added. “The growers will become stronger, too. As soon as there’s an official tender, [the drug] will then become prescription medication, and I’m sure it will be accepted [by the legislator].”

Today the distribution of medical cannabis is in the hands of eight growing companies in Israel, and distributed in two key locations: one is the “Tikkun Olam” center in Tel Aviv; the other at the Abarbanel Mental Health Medical Center in Bat Yam. There is also a paid home delivery service for medical cannabis.

According to representatives of the Ministry of Health, which presented to the committee the new system for selling medical marijuana, the field will now pass to family doctors who will undergo special training at the Health Ministry for diagnosis and prescribing to patients through pharmacies. Patients will be able to choose a GP from a list of doctors who took the necessary training.

Ministry of Health Deputy Director General Dr. Boaz Lev said that the ministry would like to “expand the administrative bottlenecks so that many more doctors will be able to prescribe the drug responsibly and carefully,” he explained. “We will also train the patients to recognize the risks. We intend to regulate it as we do narcotics. We will disconnect the grower from the patient.”

Committee chairman MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) called the move “great news,” after years of deadlock and frustrations.

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