Israel, a leading medical cannabis research hub, has rolled out new laws that ease restrictions surrounding medical cannabis possession and consumption. In a move to offer flexibility to its growing pool of 30,000+ registered patients, the Israeli Health Ministry issued a new directive that allows individuals holding a valid permit to use cannabis in public, which is currently in effect.
So far, the only methods of consumption that were approved includes oil and vapor. Although helpful to those who are having a difficult time incorporating medicinal cannabis in their busy lifestyle, the majority of patients still prefer to smoke cannabis, which was not given the green light by officials.
“In smoking, even cannabis, other combustible materials are involved and the results of the burning can harm others,”
said Yuval Landschaft, leader of the Health Ministry’s cannabis division, during an interview with Haaretz.
The lax guidelines specifically target groups that need to partake in the medicinal plant during times of emergency, as well as those who are on a strict periodic dosing schedule. Children suffering from an epilepsy disorder are to directly benefit from the health authority’s timely directive. Under the new regulation, such patients will be able to openly drop cannabis oil in their food or directly in their mouth without scrutiny.
It is important to consider that cannabis derivatives used to treat epilepsy are high in CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, and low in THC, a compound in the plant that is responsible for cerebral stimulation.
Know the Rules
For Israel-based patients who prefer to vape cannabis, there are some additional guidelines that limit the medium’s applications. Vaporizing the herb is prohibited in locations where minors gather, such as schools and other educational institutions. Furthermore, it is still banned in airports. Registered patients are not allowed to vape cannabis in front of people. Professionals who work around heavy machinery or are holding positions in the public transportation sector are also prohibited from vaporizing cannabis in the workplace to ensure the safety of commuters.
Previously, legally consuming cannabis in the country was only encouraged in private establishments – mostly residential homes. Patients were required to list an address where they would store and partake in the plant during the registration process. They were also not allowed to consume it in front of people.
This outdated regulation caused several issues for people who don’t spent a lot of time at the registered address. Additionally, going on vacation or moving to a new home required patients to update their address in the permit.
The Health Ministry’s decision is very timely, as the country recently decriminalized cannabis in March. Under the ruling, individuals caught consuming cannabis without valid permits will be fined $271 (first offense). Punishment intensifies, depending on the number of times one is caught. The fourth offense entails criminal charges.
“This is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that millions of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals,” explained MK Tamar Zandberg, chairwoman of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse.