Jun 22, 2009
Here in the U.S., medical marijuana is still routinely branded as some sort of sinister "drug legalizer" conspiracy. In Israel, according to a fascinating article in the newspaper Haaretz, the leading conspirator appears to be the Ministry of Health.
Officials have authorized over 700 patients to use marijuana for medical purposes, and expect the number to rise to 1,200 within three months. Authorities are in the process of authorizing five or six producers to handle the needs of this growing patient population. Dr. Yehuda Baruch, who oversees the program, says the average prescription is for 100 grams -- a little over three ounces -- per month. So much for the claims of U.S. prohibitionists that allowing patients even an ounce or two would flood their communities with marijuana.
And doctors are finding marijuana amazingly useful. Haaretz reports:
When Cannabis was approved for medicinal purposes in 1999, it was originally intended for terminal cancer and AIDS patients. Today it is being used in earlier stages of illness and for a wider array of diseases, including Parkinson's, Tourette Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain and shell shock. The medical establishment is also increasingly recognizing Cannabis' effectiveness in treating illness.
At the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital's Bone Marrow Transplantation department, patients including children and babies are treated using drops of oil derived from Cannabis. "It has no side effects and is largely effective in treating patients," said department chief, Professor Reuven Or. "I would say it is effective in 80 percent of patients, which is a lot."
Professor Or continued, "It stimulates the appetite and minimizes nausea and vomiting, which is of great importance in Oncology. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in cases of infection or inflammation caused by radiation. Along with this, Cannabis eases the coping process for patients - it improves their morale and lowers depression, and these are important parameters for patients battling disease."