Israel’s recent decision to permit greater use of medical marijuana may relieve thousands suffering from chronic pain.
Cannabis is known to give blessed relief from the pain of cancer. Yet the plant helps people suffering from many other ailments, such as multiple sclerosis, colitis, neurological pain, and post-trauma stress disorder. Until now, the herb has not been in the first line of treatment for chronic pain. Rather, conventional medicine has viewed it as an almost last-resort method.
Take my friend Rivka. Crippled by polio at age 4, she suffers constant pain from atrophied muscles and deteriorating hip bones. But she’s a fighter. In spite of bad days that oblige her to trade a wheelchair for her usual crutches, she has earned a degree in social work, married and raised a family of her own, and in earlier years took an active part in her community. Now severe chronic pain has blocked this intelligent and resourceful woman’s ability to to enjoy life and be useful.
Rivka used every conventional method of pain relief before asking her doctors for medical marijuana. Her doctors wouldn’t consider it; getting pot for a patient seemed just too deviant. But in September of 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Health authorized five hospitals to issue licenses permitting patients to buy marijuana at authorized outlets. In the future, the patients, who now undergo extensive bureaucracy to get those permits, will obtain them via an interview with the managers of their local health funds.
In addition, a new study recommends more extensive use of marijuana to manage severe chronic pain.
Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on a study recently conducted at the Sheba Medical Center in conjunction with the Israel Cancer Association, which involved 264 cancer patients who were treated with medical marijuana for a full year:
Some 61 percent of the respondents reported a significant improvement in their quality of life as a result of the medical marijuana, while 56 percent noted an improvement in their ability to manage pain. In general, 67 percent were in favor of the treatment, while 65 percent said they would recommend it to other patients.
The study concluded that more doctors should be prescribing cannabis. Given that cannabis is already proved to be effective, it’s time that people enduring severe chronic pain have access to it right away, instead of having to wait till they’ve tried everything else. We welcome the news that in Israel, times are changing in favor of this.
More on cannabis from Green Prophet:
Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.