Health minister’s medical marijuana plan gets underway
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Health minister’s medical marijuana plan gets underway

Litzman’s overhaul includes training doctors who will be able to prescribe cannabis, and making it available in pharmacies

Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party at a Finance Committee meeting, December 16, 2013 (Flash90)
Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party at a Finance Committee meeting, December 16, 2013 (Flash90)

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman’s program to overhaul and increase the use of medical marijuana in Israel received a major boost Thursday, as the first stage of his two-part reform plan got underway.

The ministry announced the beginning of a training program for doctors who will then be allowed to prescribe marijuana. The two-day training is aimed at specialists in oncology and psychiatry, as well as family doctors, pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons and others.

The training is the first phase of Litzman’s reforms; the second phase includes dispensing cannabis by prescription in pharmacies. Currently, medical cannabis is only dispensed by people with a special Health Ministry license.

According to Army Radio, doctors who complete the two-day course will have a license to prescribe cannabis, and the plant will be added to the roster of medicine they can prescribe to patients.

Head of the Israel Medical Association Leonid Eidelman stressed that signing up for training will be a voluntary decision for practitioners.

“Doctors who want to use cannabis in treatments will learn how to,” Idelman told Army Radio. “They will learn when to give permits and when not to.”

The Health Ministry intends to train as large a number of doctors as possible in order to increase the availability of medical marijuana.

Litzman’s approach to the issue of medical marijuana is more lenient than predecessor Yael German, who resisted efforts to make cannabis more accessible to patients.

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