Medical marijuana use rose sharply this year, according to figures released by the Health Ministry, which indicated that some 13,000 patients in total were approved for legal use of cannabis in 2013, compared to 10,000 in 2012, an increase of 30 percent.

Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies “driven by economic interests” are working to restrict the granting of medical marijuana permits because it cuts into their profits, MK Haim Katz (Labor) told Israel Radio Thursday morning. Katz currently chairs the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

Although Israel is considered one of the most advanced countries in the world with regard to the use of medical cannabis, the government is still cautious. In 2009 a decision was taken to establish a separate government authority to oversee and secure production of ganja, but the decision has yet to be implemented, leaving the matter in the hands of the Health Ministry.

In May of this year, Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) said during a Knesset hearing that “people who are helped by cannabis should be able to receive it.”

The Health, Agriculture and Public Security ministries are currently working together on a new proposal to regulate medical marijuana in Israel, and are expected to present a plan within the next two weeks, Israel Radio noted Thursday.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.`