Cannabis for kids: Israel pioneers pediatric pot
Eshed says “If someone told me at the beginning that there was this option of cannabis, I think I could have saved him a lot of months of pain.” Medical cannabis has been gaining ground as a valid therapy. It offers relief to children suffering with cancer, it has been confirmed to soothe severe pain, increase the appetite, stop vomiting and ease insomnia where other common medications do not.
Twenty years ago, Raphael Mechoulam an Israeli scientist was the first to discover that giving cannabis oil to kids with cancer resulted in easing their physical and emotional pain. Israel now allows cannabis treatment to children and adults in medical institutions, this includes government-run hospitals and nursing homes. Medical marijuana is estimated to be a $40 million industry in Israel. Research in Israel has assisted America’s own medical marijuana business, which just this year is expected to be worth more than $2 billion. Doctors in the United States and all over the world continue to questions the efficiency of medical marijuana but time and time again we are getting positive feedback when it had been used. In the U.S. medical marijuana legality is determined on the state level but it’s legal nationally in Israel. Israel’s largest medical cannabis supplier is a company called Tikun Olam and was started by businessman Tsachi Cohen in 2006 as a charitable, private company aimed at delivering marijuana to sick patients for free. Cohen received the first license to grow marijuana from the Israeli Ministry of Health in 2007.
After the initial success with Israeli hospitals, the company is now appealing to Israeli, Palestinian, and international organizations in an effort to bring medical marijuana to sick children who receive medical care not only within Israel, but under the Palestinian Authority as well. Unlike in Israel, medical marijuana is frowned upon as medicine in Palestine. “Currently, we have a qualified Arab-Israeli male nurse that is fluent in Arabic, and we are also treating a number of Palestinian children from Ramallah and Gaza that have cancer and are hospitalized in Israeli hospitals,” says Eran Rise, spokesman for Tikun Olam.
Sheba Medical Center is the only government-run hospital, where patients consume THC and Cannabidiol (CBD) oil as well as cannabis pills on-site. Tikun Olam has about 4,000 patients, or about 30% of Israel’s medical marijuana recipients. The company has 60 employees including nurses, doctors, researchers and growers. Patients mainly pay Tikun Olam $100 per month for medical cannabis, they also pay a one-off fee of $40 for a tutorial on how to use the cannabis properly. Prices are determined by the Israeli Ministry of Health, which issues licenses for qualified patients to receive the marijuana. The $100 is a service fee, not dependent on how many grams of marijuana a patient receives. Cannabis is free for children with cancer. Tikun Olam has been successful in treating Arab and Jewish patients with marijuana in Israel, it has yet to find a partner to help it do the same in the Palestinian Authority. The company is now appealing to Doctors without Borders and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
It’s not just children who are benefiting from medical marijuana in Israel. Grandparents are using it as well. There is a nursing home in Kibbutz Na’an called Hadarim, here patients as old as 103 years old use medical marijuana in various ways. At the Hadarim nursing home, 19 patients between the ages of 69 and 101 were treated with medical cannabis in the form of powder, oil, vapor, or smoke three times daily over the course of a year for conditions such as pain, lack of appetite, and muscle spasms and tremors. Researchers and nursing home staff monitored the participants for signs of improvement, as well as improvement in overall life quality, such as mood and ease in completing daily living activities. During the study, 17 patients achieved a healthy weight, they gained or lost pounds as needed. Muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors and pain reduced significantly. Almost all patients reported an increase in sleeping hours and a decrease in nightmares and PTSD-related flashbacks.
The healing powers of cannabis are being shown to be close to miraculous. When will the Government recognize this and make changes to legalize medical marijuana?
Below is a video about how Israel is using cannabis to treat children and the elderly:
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