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CANNABIS INDUSTRY 

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Israel Extends Medical Cannabis Prescriptions as Middle East Tensions Escalate

Israel Extends Medical Cannabis Prescriptions as Middle East Tensions Escalate

Israel’s Ministry of Health has taken steps to ensure cannabis patients can continue to access the treatment following the outbreak of conflict in the region.

Sarah Sinclair

20 October 2023 at 07:00:00

This report first published in Cannabis Health, 11 October 2023.


Following the events in Gaza over the last week, the Israeli Ministry of Health has confirmed an extension to patients’ medical cannabis prescription licences amid fears over supplies of medication.

On Saturday 7 October 2023 the Palestinian militant group Hamas, launched a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip.


READ: Israeli medical cannabis use expected to skyrocket after sweeping reforms announced


Following the news, local media outlet, Israeli Cannabis Magazine,  reported that many cannabis patients were concerned about running out of medication amid the conflict, with some turning to online forums to express their uncertainty.


In Israel, cannabis prescriptions are issued bi-monthly for limited amounts, but with some patients consuming more than usual due to the ‘stress’ of the situation, they feared running out before it could be renewed.


One patient reportedly wrote: “Since the events started, due to stress, I smoke a lot, much more than usual, sitting at home and smoking and the monthly supply is nearing the end. My next prescription will only open in two weeks, I don’t know what I will do next week.”


While another added: “I think there are hundreds of patients whose medicine is currently nearing the end due to the situation, there is double if not triple consumption.”


Around 125,000 patients in Israel are thought to hold medical cannabis licences, many of them with debilitating conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As it stands, patients are required to obtain a government licence in order to legally access cannabis from pharmacies throughout the country.


The Ministry of Health has now confirmed that any patient whose licence has expired or is due to expire within the next month, and who has not had time to apply for a renewal, will be granted a three month extension.


READ MORE: From last resort to first line: Israel’s major reforms to medical cannabis


The announcement came following an inquiry by Israeli Cannabis Magazine when a previous directive regarding access to prescription medication during the conflict was issued which appeared to overlook medical cannabis.


The directive, published as soon as officials became aware of the security threat on Saturday 7 October, permitted patients without a valid prescription to access medication, but did not mention cannabis patients.


The extended licence, along with three monthly prescriptions will reportedly be sent to the patient by email.


A similar process is said to be also in place for businesses which hold cannabis licences.


Israeli Cannabis Magazine reports that the majority of private pharmacies, as well as local Super Pharm and Be Pharm branches, are expected to be open as usual, except in combat zones in accordance with the directives of the Home Front Command.

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