Israel: Clinic offers puff of relief for chronically ill

May 21, 2008

A Tel Aviv medical clinic has quietly begun giving marijuana to cancer and AIDS sufferers, legally and with Health Ministry approval, reports Yediot Tel Aviv. The move, the first of its kind in Israel, is aimed at alleviating the pain suffered by the chronically and seriously ill.

According to the report, the clinic began giving the drug to suffering patients about six months ago. By Israeli law, marijuana can legally be used as a medicine if a patient obtains a special license from the Health Ministry. The drug is approved only for patients with cancer, AIDS or Crohn’s Disease (a chronic gastro-intestinal illness), and aims to help ease the chronic pain they suffer from the illnesses or as side-effects of treatments for the diseases. The clinic – which the Health Ministry has refused to identify publicly, reportedly either to prevent protests or to keep criminal elements away – gives out the drug in small, controlled quantities when a patient presents their license.

One cancer patient said the ministry’s decision to offer the drug through the clinic was “a blessing,” saying it prevents suffering patients from being driven to buy the drug illegally. The patient said more doctors and the Israel Cancer Association should be made aware of the therapeutic, pain-relieving benefits of marijuana, and not regard it solely as an undesirable and harmful illegal drug. A spokesman for the cancer association said it was true that the drug could reduce painful side-effects for some patients undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments, and the organization would consider adding information about this to its website.

From http://www.jpost.com/

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