By Steve Elliott
Israel's Health Ministry, attempting to deal with a heavy load on pain clinics, has announced that family doctors will temporarily be allowed to write medical marijuana prescriptions for their patients.
The new rules will allow family physicians to write the medicinal cannabis prescriptions under two conditions, reports Ido Efrati at Haaretz: when it is an extension of an existing treatment, and keeping to an existing dosage.
About 18,000 Israelis hold permits for using medical marijuana, with this number expected to grow to 40,000 by 2018. Demand for cannabis in Israel has been growing steadily, and the list of conditions for which it is authorized has also been growing.
Medical marijuana was recently authorized for the treatment of certain types of pediatric epilepsy, as well as in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with the other diseases and conditions for which patients are allowed to use cannabis.
Israeli health authorities have suggested before that family doctors -- who work in health maintenance organization (HMO) clinics -- should be able to write cannabis prescriptions. But the idea has met with fierce opposition in the past, both from some of the doctors themselves and from the HMOs.