Alan Flashman

Free the plants. Now!

We in Israel have witnessed the huge gulf between civil and political society. Israelis have rallied in impressive numbers making impressive efforts with impressive technological and media skills to aid everyone in need from victims to soldiers missing equipment. We are an amazing people!

Everyone knows that the government, stumbling along from blunder to thunder, has been less than impressive in all fronts, especially in communicating with civilians. Let’s be generous and say that they have this other priority – readying for a ground war in a completely booby-trapped Gaza just waiting to explode on our forces (as previous experience shows). But whether from incompetence or from understandable inability, it is clear that civilian efforts are needed and can function extremely well.

Mental health services in Israel over the past decade have dwindled to practically nonexistent – in the Kupot it takes months to see a psychiatrist and double for a child psychiatrist. Civilians are in desperate need of three innocent plants for self-treatment. Civil society can organize itself to make them available. It is well known that our government has been an international outlier in restricting all three for Heaven knows what reasons.  We are in a state of civil emergency trauma and it is time to free these plants. NOW.

PLANT 1 St. John’s Wort. Worldwide it is easily available in many different forms, mostly OTC, for adults and children. It is an excellent and safe treatment for anxiety when taken regularly (not sporadically as needed). Israel wiped it off the shelf in 2000 because of one ridiculous and biased “study” that did not impress the FDA (SJW remains OTC in the USA). Seven years later it was reintroduced – by the Pharmaceutical company RAFA – as by prescription only, there is only one form for sale, that form is not very effective (it contains hypericin but not hyperforin) and the Health Ministry restricts the does to less than the average dose and restricts it from children under 11. MAKE IT OTC NOW! Civil society will know how to proceed.

PLANT 2 CBD My guess is that there are hundreds of thousands of households in the USA where parents help their kids with epilepsy and autism with CBD (with less than 0.3% THC). It is also extremely helpful for anxiety on an as-needed basis. In the whole world, you just go to a CBD store and buy it. Israel’s Health Ministry held CBD as Schedule 1 dangerous drug until February last year when the Health Minister did what he could and signed all of the Minstry’s self-appointed “experts” on removing it from Schedule 1. So it is no longer illegal – to buy or use. It remains “not” legal to sell because it has yet to be “classified” as OTC or prescription. We are in an emergency and it is a no-brainer. MAKE CBD PRODUCTS OTC NOW! Civil society will make it available.


There is little question of the efficacy of Medical Cannabis as one element in the treatment of PTSD. Nowhere on the planet is it more difficult to obtain a “license” for medical cannabis for PTSD than in Israel. As I have written many times, the IMCA (Israel Medical Cannabis Authority) makes restrictions including cost (the Kupot will hardly deal with it so you have to pay a private doctor) that make most Israelis give up on ever obtaining a license. Just a few years ago I made an effort to obtain licenses for exactly those neighbors of Gaza who were just now brutalized, and the response of IMCU was to restrict my activities with PTSD entirely (formally: my recognition as adult psychiatrist is only from the banana republic called the USA and not from Israel). Everywhere except Israel the immediate treatment of trauma is considered crucial. The IMCU requires THREE YEARS from diagnosis to license (I am told sometimes they “relax” this absurd requirement.) Israel has great expertise in the psychological treatment of trauma, but clearly today these experts cannot provide even a fraction of the immediate treatment required. Civil society if rather familiar with cannabis. Another no-brainer: LEGALIZE CANNABIS. NOW! Civil society can organize access and regulate itself far better than the Health Ministry.

Why am I writing this here? Because I know of no forum of consequence to write it in Israel and in Hebrew. My audience is singular: Israel’s Minister of Health. You have the opportunity (and heavy responsibility) to vote confidence in our citizens and free three safe and effective plants for the immediate treatment they require. NOW!

About the Author
Alan Flashman was born in Foxborough, MA, and gained his BA from Columbia, MD from NYU, Pediatrics, Adult and Child Psychiatry specialties at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Bronx, NY. He has practiced in Beer Sheba since 1983, and taught mental health at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University. Alan has edited readers on Therapeutic Communication with Children (2002) and Adolescents (2005) in Hebrew, translated Buber's I and Thou anew into Hebrew, and authored Losing It, an autobiography, and From Protection to Passover. He recently published two summary works of his clinical experience (both 2022) Family Therapies for the 21st Century and Mental Health in Pediatrics.