In recent years, there has been an increase in the medical use of cannabis in many countries around the world, including in the State of Israel. Concurrently there has been significant progress in scientific research of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system, which has shown to contain compounds that have beneficial medical effects on a variety of symptoms and diseases.
Cannabis is considered a “narcotic drug” as defined by law, but many of the global medical authorities do recognize that cannabis has medical potential that may benefit patients with specific medical indications. The use of cannabis for medical purpose is a dynamic and developing field and the regulation of its medical use is an ongoing process in many countries around the world.
While cannabis is not registered as a medicine, the Ministry of Health of Israel believes that its products can be of benefit in the treatment of certain medical conditions. Although it contains substances defined as narcotic drugs, which require control and regulation in order to ensure the public’s health and safety, cannabis should be treated, as far as possible, in the same manner as a registered medicine or medicinal product.
In any program pertaining to the use of cannabis for medical purposes, the State of Israel is bound to the provisions of the international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and exacting observance of the provisions of the ordinance and regulations in The Dangerous Drugs Ordinance [New Version] 1973.
The Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency (IMCA) – in the Ministry of Health, serves as a “governmental agency” in accordance with the provisions of the Convention in all matters relating to the control and regulation of cannabis treatment for medical and research applications.
The State of Israel is one of the leading countries in the world in the sphere of cannabis for medical purposes, and in June 2016 the governmental regulation outline 1587 defined "Cannabis for medical and research purposes", which ensures access to and supply of medical grade cannabis on the one hand and control of cannabis products that are defined as “a narcotic drug” on the other.
The state is obligated to safeguard public health, wellbeing and safety, to prevent the misuse of the drug, and to regulate a new market with stringent quality control that is aligned with the laws of the State of Israel. It also needs to afford patients an appropriate source and supply of cannabis for medical purposes, and to allow research.
The regulation outline is intended to determine appropriate standards of cannabis for medical and research purposes, by defining the medicalization process of cannabis.
The issues of legalization or decriminalization of cannabis are not within the scope of this process, but rather lie within the responsibility of the Israeli parliament and its legislative process and therefore must be addressed by the parliament and not by medical professionals.