No goat but no cannabis

Everyone is familiar with the famous story of the man who went to his Rabbi complaining of his cramped quarters. The Rabbi instructed him to bring a goat into his quarters. He came back shortly to say his quarters are even worse. The Rabbi told him to remove the goat. The man returned to praise the Rabbi for this marvelous solution. Without the goat his quarters were so spacious!

I cannot help but wonder of Israel’s Medical Cannabis Authority (IMCA) is just now pulling off  this clever stunt. For years dealing with the IMCA has been like living ins a pup tent with a herd of goats, for patients and for doctors alike. Patients had to find and pay privately a doctor with whom the IMCA would not cooperate. The doctor had to fill in an unfriendly form, print and fax, patients had to call an unavailable phoמe to ask if the fax wasn’t perhaps eaten by a goat. Doctors were not informed if the license was granted, etc. etc. Suddenly last week the Rabbi has eaten the goat. Suddenly there is a new form (which probably took a split second of high-tech time to modify). Suddenly the form actually runs on the computer, no need to print fax or call. Suddenly email works, the patient can upload all the documents necessary. Now suddenly there are these announcements: medical cannabis will be given (by whom not yet clear) by prescription, no licenses at all, medical cannabis will be taken off Schedule One (it was ever on Schedule One??), noise about Israel making CBD oil legal (the last developed country to come around). The goat is gone? Just like that? And now some folks IMAGINE that legalization is approaching?

I fear we are in the last stage of a manipulation. Why now, when these matters needed to be done and could have been done years ago? My fear, as I have been stating for years, is the culmination of then preposterous spin stated years ago, in utter disregard for reality, by then Minister of Health Yael Gurman, “Everyone who need cannabis in Israel has it.” I fear these “dramatic developments” are just the continuation of the same spin.

We need to add to the drama some pieces that do not fit into an optimistic reading.

  • First, only 40 grams can be prescribed. Many many patients need more, what medical criteria could justify only 40?
  • Second, the 40 grams will now cost a good 20% or so more than under the current program.
  • Third, the quality of what will be in the pharmacies is currently extremely  problematic.
  • Fourth, the pharmacies carry only mixes of strain with the pseudo-scientific determination that only the CBD and THC concentrations are relevant. What Nature produces will be left for the goats. Any patient who has figured out which strain is right for him will have a complete break in continuity of treatment, hardly something to brag about.
  • Fifth, pharmacies are a business, and will stock what sells and not what patients need, again compromising continuity of care. This aspect has been failing from the outset.
  • And sixth, the State of Israel has been harassing everyone else, having fined more than a thousand Israelis for illegal use of this Schedule One dangerous drug, and it looks like increased “enforcement” goes together with the other announcements. Enforcement against home-growing has been especially harsh, with amusing reports of mnay plants being arrested (and fed to goats?).

Putting it all together, something the Ministry does not wish anyone to do, I fear we have a simple scenario – “Everyone who needs cannabis in Israel now has it!”

-destroy whole plant non-patentable medical cannabis

-replace it with patentable CBD-THC preparations )RAFA’s AXIBAN is already here)

-ensure that the natural plant remains Schedule I dangerous drug with “no medical applications”.

-Israel can lead the world in recriminalization and presuo-medicalization of cannabis

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.
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