TEL AVIV – Israel will begin exporting medical marijuana abroad, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said Sunday.
Earlier this month, the Health Ministry approved measures to make medical cannabis more accessible to patients, including training 100 additional doctors to dispense prescriptions.
“In two years, we will have protocols in place that will allow farmers to grow cannabis,” Ariel told Israel Radio over the weekend, according to Israel’s online Hebrew-language magazine Cannabis.
“The Agriculture Ministry has set up specific areas for the research and trial of growing cannabis, a plant whose foremost use is the medical treatment of patients around the world,” he said.
Though its use for medical purposes was once considered taboo, the term “medicalization of marijuana” is used more and more by the Health Ministry these days.
Some 23,000 patients currently benefit from cannabis but only 36 doctors are authorized to give prescriptions. The new measures could mean that thousands more people would be able to benefit from its use.
The new legislation also included lifting the restriction on the number of growers.
It will also be available in local pharmacies.
The Justice Ministry has recently begun exploring the possibility of decriminalizing recreational use of the drug in Israel. According to the new measures, those caught using soft drugs would be fined but not charged with a crime, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said.
Those caught in their own homes with up to 15 grams of cannabis – considered personal use – would be charged 300 NIS ($78), while those caught in public would be fined NIS 1,500 ($390).
Meanwhile, Israeli doctors are putting marijuana to use in a range of research projects. Dr. Adi Eran is leading the first ever formal clinical trial to see whether marijuana can improve the lives of children and teenagers with autism.
120 individuals with autism will take part in the trial, but participants will only be administered cannabis oil that is free of the psychoactive component that causes the “high.”