Israelis Might Soon Get Their Pot at the Prescription Counter by the Forward

Israelis Might Soon Get Their Pot at the Prescription Counter

Image by getty images

If Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has his way, Israelis might soon be able to get pot along with their aspirin at the local drugstore. Pending regulations from the Health Ministry, Israel’s biggest pharmacy conglomerate will dispense medical marijuana at its hundreds of locations, according to a report in Ha’aretz.

Israel currently allows sick people to purchase marijuana directly from growers once they have a prescription. But they have to go to a distribution center or sign up for home delivery to receive the product. If the government’s talks with the chain Super-Pharm pan out, then patients could pick up their pot with their other medications. Pharmacists might also be allowed to prescribe the substance to people on the spot.

Could Israelis Soon Get Their Pot at the Prescription Counter?

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, of the Haredi United Torah Judaism party, first announced plans for the move in a session of the Knesset last year.

“Today pharmacies give out all kind of drugs, including narcotics such as morphine, and it’s done in a perfectly orderly fashion. So marijuana will be handled the same way,” he said. “It will be prescribed and monitored by the same standards as other medications.”

Litzman, who heads the United Torah Judaism party, said the move would ease pressure on the overcrowded medical marijuana dispensaries that struggle to serve thousands of Israelis prescribed the drug.

Litzman’s plan was praised at the time by Tamar Zandberg, a member of the leftwing Meretz party – a rare occurrence as her and Litzman’s factions are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

“We heard a revolutionary statement on this issue for the first time in several years,” she said. “This is huge news.”

Israel has become an epicenter of medical research into cannabis, with scientists working to create a version of the drug that gives patients its benefits — like reducing inflammation and relieving pain — absent the use of the active ingredients that make recreational users high.

A March report in Arutz Sheva noted that almost two dozen Israeli universities now have research centers for cannabis, and new startups are being launched around the country to refine its production and use.

American tobacco company Phillip Morris even invested $20 million in Syke, an Israeli company that develops medical marijuana inhalers.

According to government statistics, around 27,000 people were treated with medical marijuana last year.

Could Israelis Soon Get Their Pot at the Prescription Counter?

Micki Ofer, a former head of the Pharmaceutical Society of Israel who has been involved in Litzman’s planning efforts, told Ha’aretz that the new rule would send medical use of marijuana soaring.

“After the program comes into effect and more doctors are certified to issue prescriptions, the number of patients using the plant will skyrocket to around 100,000.”

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon


Daniel J. Solomon

Daniel J. Solomon is the former Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.

Israeli Health Ministry Could Ease Access to Medical Marijuana

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Israelis Might Soon Get Their Pot at the Prescription Counter

Thank you!

This article has been sent!