The Israeli Health Ministry announced the eagerly awaited medical cannabis reforms in a statement published on the 7th of August 2023 by the ministry’s Economics, Regulation, and Innovation Directorate. The new reforms are most certainly going to result in an uptick in the consumption of medical cannabis by patients, as treatment will be easier to access than before. The reforms, which will likely go into effect in January 2024, will impact a small but significant number of patients, as access to medical cannabis will now only require a prescription and not an additional license.
According to the announced reforms, patients suffering from a wide array of diseases and conditions, including oncology, epilepsy, gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s and colitis, dementia, autism from the age of 5, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette syndrome, and people in need of palliative care, can now receive medical cannabis treatment in Israel with a regular medical prescription starting from the 29th of December 2023. In addition, the use of medical cannabis as a first-line treatment and not a last resort, and the simplification of the process of exporting Israeli-made medical cannabis products to the EU in line with the EU-GMP certification process, are also included in the reforms, pending final approval from the ministry.
Although the reforms symbolize a change in attitude towards medical cannabis by the Israeli government, critics are pointing out the reforms’ lack of inclusivity, especially regarding patients with health complications that require medical cannabis treatment, including but not limited to conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain, and ailments like endometriosis in women.
The loosening of regulation on medical cannabis is not just beneficial to patients. If more reforms like these are introduced by the Israeli Health Ministry, medical research and investments into cannabis-based treatments for various diseases and health conditions are likely to increase, creating a variety of treatments for patients.