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February 9, 2014 12:57 pm

Technical Glitch Denies 1,000 Israelis Access to Medically Prescribed Cannabis

avatar by Gidon Ben-Zvi

A cannabis leaf. Photo: Jon Richfield via Wikimedia Commons.

Approximately one thousand Israeli patients who have already obtained legal permission to use cannabis, are not currently able to acquire state-approved marijuana, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Sunday. The restriction is the result of a computer malfunction.

Ironically, Israel’s Ministry of Health planned on launching a new computer system last week with the explicit aim of shortening the long waiting period for a cannabis license, Ma’ariv said. However, due to an undefined bug in the system, the new streamlined process has not yet been implemented.

In recent years, the amount of Israelis with medical cannabis licenses has grown steadily and now stands at approximately fourteen thousand people, Ma’ariv reported.

Yet, the number of medical professionals who are authorized to prescribe medical marijuana hasn’t grown with the demand. To date, a mere twenty-one doctors in all of Israel are allowed to issue the licenses to patients, Ma’ariv said.

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As a result, patients must sometimes wait months before receiving official written permission to buy medical marijuana. Furthermore, the current process in many cases doesn’t provide updates to patients on the status of their submitted requests.

To cut out the red tape, the Ministry of Health recently resolved to implement new protocols by which a doctor’s recommendation, along with any necessary medical documentation, is to be scanned and sent to a patient’s healthcare provider directly. From there, the medical marijuana request is to be sent directly to a medical doctor for approval, Ma’ariv said.

The technical hiccup comes at a most inopportune time, Ma’ariv said. Last week, the Ministry of Health approved 2,500 applications for medical cannabis.

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