Yaron, Amit and Reuven, whose licenses for using medical cannabis will soon expire, ask the government why their conditions aren’t included in the upcoming reform despite proof the drug can improve their quality of life
Yaron Adel, a post-traumatic patient and leader of the fight for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) victims in Israel, expressed his frustration with the Israeli government for leaving out patients like him from the recently approved medical cannabis reform.
“Politicians say that post-traumatic patients are the most important, that we need to prioritize soldiers in the military. We see time after time how easy it is for them to send us to battle, to be killed and injured, but fail to alleviate hurdles standing before PTSD patients in acquiring treatment using medical cannabis, which can be triggering,” he said.
Many patients will soon be able to receive cannabis through a regular prescription, rather than the cumbersome license process that was in place in Israel until now. However, post-traumatic patients and those with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, have been left out.
Describe the process and complexity of being approved to use medical cannabis.
“After several diagnoses, doctors realized I required medical intervention for the difficulties I was facing in my life. I and my psychiatrist realized that treatment with cannabis was something I needed,” he said.
“From there, I needed to show the Health Ministry that I’ve tried other medications, excluding cannabis, for at least four months. In other words, in order to obtain a cannabis license, post-traumatic patients are required to consume very strong drugs, in addition to the requirement to undergo psychiatric treatment.”
“The second stage was to find a psychiatrist specializing in cannabis treatment for issuing the license. There are 100 such psychiatrists in Israel. Once the doctor submits the license to the Health Ministry, there’s another process to undergo, and we need to wait for some time until we receive the license itself,” Adel explained. “Only when the license arrives can we start using cannabis. It’s a process where each stage is triggering and very difficult to manage. This is one of the reasons why many post-traumatic patients avoid cannabis.
They avoid the whole process because of its complexity.
”However, Adel also adds that “I somewhat understand the government’s decision not to include post-traumatic patients in the cannabis reform. There are a million post-traumatic patients in Israel – that’s a staggering number. One in every 10 Israelis is post-traumatic, so if we ease the bureaucracy for post-traumatic patients, it essentially means we’re legalizing cannabis.”
And today, how much does cannabis help compared to narcotic drugs?
“Besides relieving the pain, cannabis has also been proven in studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. It doesn’t eliminate the pain but reduces it to a level that allows me to lead as normal a life as possible, rather than living within it.”
“Cannabis is actually the only medication that helps fibromyalgia patients,” she added. “And the fact that the disease hasn’t been included in reform is a tough pill for us to swallow. We want to work, study, develop and live well. And the reform forces us to rely on hard drugs instead of something that really helps.
”Reuven Amir, a 72-year-old fibromyalgia patient living in Rishon LeZion, describes his hardships in acquiring a cannabis license, which is set to expire at the end of the year. “I couldn’t find a doctor within Maccabi Health Care Services, the health care provider I’m a member of, who’s willing to renew my license.”“When I approached the health care provider’s public inquiries department, they told me the responsibility for the license belongs to the Health Ministry via a special website, and that many doctors have stopped practicing in the field due to changes in the ministry’s guidelines.”