Source: Raphael Mechoulam

Last update: 20 October 2008

Legal aspects of marijuana use

To the best of my knowledge marijuana, hashish and related products are considered illegal drugs together with opiates, cocaine etc. and the law does not differentiate between the various drugs. However the courts certainly differentiate between the various drugs and between users and pushers.
About 10 years ago I headed a committee nominated by our parliament (Knesset) that looked into the possible changes in the status of marijuana. Our report was never discussed or approved. However the Attorney General may have advised the Police to follow some of its recommendations:
1. While the Police retains the legal power to arrest and start the legal procedures to bring a person to court, in most cases it will not do so. If the person is still in school it may advise the school principal and may 'scold' the user telling him that 'next time' he/she may be brought to court. The Police will not usually open a criminal file.
An user will seldom go to prison.

There is a certain limit of possession - there is a legal difference between 'possession for self use' and 'commercial use'.

Medical use

A. The Ministry of Health has appointed a person (at present the Medical Director of a Psychiatric Hospital) who can approve medical use of marijuana and hashish. The approval process is as follows:
The request has to come from a physician, who has treated the patient. The physician has to declare that the treatment so far (using approved drugs) has not been successful and that he recommends cannabis.
The approval is for a limited number of diseases, for which there is solid basis in the medical literature. The list has expanded recently in view of the medical publications covering a variety of conditions.
The patient that has been approved can get the marijuana from a legal source - a farm that grows it. I understand that it is free of charge.
In view of the widely accepted belief that cannabis helps in cases of PTSD the Ministry is to start a clinical trial.

B. I have a permit to receive hashish from the Police from which I extract cannabidiol and which I convert into pure THC. This material is supplied (free of charge) to the University Hospital, named Hadassah, where it is used by some physicians in cases of pain and to relieve side effects of anti-cancer treatment, particularly bone marrow transplants.