In Israel we are fortunate to have a Ministry of Health that does it’s best to take care of spiraling medication costs. Sal Habriut is the health basket stuffed full of subsidized medications. That’s right, when you go into the pharmacy and hand over your prescription your health insurance covers a hefty chunk of the cost of the medication. You might only hand over 20 nis to the pharmacist along with your healthcare card but that all important card normally covers a chunk of the cost too.

This basket of subsidized medications gets renegotiated every year along with other medical budgets. This year is no exception. The Ministry has to prioritize what diseases and medications to help out with and decide how much budget to dedicate to the cost of medications. There’s not enough money to cover everything.

This year’s basket of approved subsidized medications was announced last week and the budget stands at NIS 300million – seems like a lot no?! Actually it’s not, not at all.

This NIS 300million baskelegalize cannabis t is NIS 600million short of the needed budget. Yep, at least 900 million shekels is needed to cover the cost of the required meds in Israel across the entire disease spectrum.

The budget was also split 3 ways this time with a third of the budget going towards covering Hepatitis C PREVENTION meds. We’re talking about prevention meds, not treatment meds. The decision has enraged many as it means that many suffers of medical conditions like Diabetes will not get their meds covered – meds that are needed to treat  their existing condition. Meds that people depend on.

It doesn’t seem right. I’m all up for preventing diseases but putting so much budget into that rather than covering the cost of treatments that people need for illnesses they already have just doesn’t make sense to me.

I get it, there’s not enough money to go around and decisions have to be made. I’m curious to know why this one was made and how it was decided. If anyone can shed some light I’ll happily hear what you have to say!

The fact is, we need an additional NIS 600million for the national health basket to make everyone happy…. And I know a way that can give everyone what they need and it revolves around Cannabis.

Now, don’t judge me on this, hear me out and let me explain why I think legalizing Cannabis can help the health basket, ministry of health budget and generally free up a lot of stress (for individuals and organizations…. And even the police)

There are a few reasons why I think Cannabis can help.

Currently medical Cannabis is available in Israel with a prescription but for a limited number of medical conditions. The bureaucracy involved in getting a prescription even for a registered medical condition is prohibitive. My mother has Crohn’s disease and even though this is a registered medical condition she has been unable to find a doctor who will write her a prescription. Typically 85% of first time applicants are refused approval but second time applicants are typically approved. Medical Cannabis has been proven to help all kinds of conditions including everything from stress, migraines, pain and tinnitus through to epilepsy, neurological diseases, cancer and Parkinson’s. Making it easier for people to obtain medical Cannabis prescriptions can help lower the need for other medications, therefore freeing up budget for the Sal Habriut to spend on other medications.

Medical Cannabis and recreational Cannabis are two different things but they are both part of the fight for Cannabis. Many recreational Cannabis users are not drug craving teenagers anymore; they are doctors, scientists, lawyers, regular people like you and me. People who just want a little “time out” from their daily stress. Have a glass of wine before bed to unwind or have a joint? Same thing really, well it is according to your middle aged neighbor who sits in his garden and smokes one joint every evening to numb his migraines and help him sleep better. In fact when you look at the facts on Alcohol consumption compared to Cannabis consumption it seems that Cannabis consumption is actually less harmful.

cannabis vs alcohol

Here’s another reason why. Recently, a report was published by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies regarding the potential money that could be generated by legalizing Cannabis (marijuana) in Israel. The income would be generated through both the tax revenue and through the legal system which has an incredible burden upon its shoulders from drug busts for personal possession. Most of these personal possession busts are eventually thrown out the window but it takes an immense amount of time, cost and administration to clear them. People like your neighbor with the migraines.

The report claims that legalizing Cannabis would save the police and courts an estimated NIS 690million and would bring the state NIS 950million in tax revenue. That means an extra NIS 1.6billion would be available to spread around. It could be channeled into covering more medication costs for example to bridge the missing NIS 600million from the Sal Habriut.

Just do the math. To make everyone happy when it comes to prescription medication coverage, an extra NIS 600million is needed. Making everyone happy with the legalization or at least partial legalization of Cannabis potentially generates NIS 1.6billion. Even after covering the missing Sal Habruit budget, NIS 1billion would be put back into the economy.

The only political party running to legalize Cannabis is Meretz. Agree or disagree with their other policies, this is something to consider when you head to the ballot boxes in a few months’ time.