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Israel debates legalizing medical marijuana

The Israeli medical community is debating the use of medical marijuana for veterans who suffer from lasting post-war trauma.
A worker rolls the tops of newly prepared cigarettes filled with marijuana at a plantation near the northern town of Nazareth May 28, 2013. Marijuana is an illegal drug in Israel. Medicinal use of it was first permitted in 1993, according to the health ministry. Today cannabis is used in Israel to treat 11,000 people suffering from illnesses such as cancer, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and post traumatic stress disorder, according to Israel's health ministry. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL -
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In Israel, the topic of medical marijuana evokes a heated response among patients and doctors alike, perhaps more than any other subject. Patients are convinced that it is a wonder drug, capable of performing miracles. Doctors, however, aren’t convinced that marijuana is a drug like any other. Some of them consider it an addictive narcotic, and some doubt its efficacy as a cure. The state thinks differently.

Over the next few days, Minister of Health Yael German will submit a bill to regulate the use of medical marijuana for the many patients who use it. Every year, the circle of Israelis for whom cannabis use is approved has been expanding. A decade ago, only 300 patients had permission to use it. Just three years ago, their number had increased tenfold, to 3,000. This year, the number of patients with permission to use cannabis shot up to 11,000. By next year, the number is expected to reach 14,000.

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