High drama in the Knesset
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High drama in the Knesset

Even by the raucous standards of Israel’s parliament, a hearing in the Knesset Health Committee this week was anything but chill.

The topic: medical marijuana.

Five witnesses supporting medical marijuana were ejected from the hearing. They, along with opposition legislators, were critical of the Health Ministry’s skeptical tone toward the medical benefits of cannabis.

The finale came as Meir Kadosh talked about his child, who suffers from epilepsy, and how much better and safer the marijuana-derived CBD oil he used to treat her is than the readily prescribed opiate pills she used to take.

“It says ‘dangerous drug’ on the label,” he said as he opened a container of CBD oil. He recited the Shehacol blessing, thanking God for making everything by God’s word, and drank the oil. “You are murderers!” he shouted.

“The pills are suicide!” he said, before jumping over the table to evade security guards and leaving the room.

The meeting was adjourned after the fracas.

The oil he drank was derived from Avidekel, a strain of marijuana, developed by Israel’s Tikun Olam company, that Rolling Stone magazine described as “the most potent type of medical marijuana.” That’s because it contains a lot of CBD and almost no THC, so users do not feel stoned after using it.

Among Western countries, Israel already has one of the highest per capita rates of legal marijuana use, with more than 21,000 people medically licensed to use the drug.

Israel is well known as a pioneer in medical cannabis. Two years ago, the government approved a plan, initiated by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, to relax some of the medical cannabis requirements. That plan aimed to expand the number of doctors who can prescribe cannabis, remove limits on the number of marijuana growers, make cannabis available at approved pharmacies, and possibly eliminate the requirement for a Health Ministry permit, so that a doctor’s prescription will be sufficient.

It’s not clear whether this meeting helped that cause.

 

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