What the United States can Learn from Countries Like Israel
It’s no secret that the Federal government of the United States is vehemently opposed to any pro-cannabis legislation. Even measures that increase individual State’s ability to cultivate industrial hemp are only accomplished under the guise of agricultural development and alternative, renewable resource development, not due hemps’ inborn ability to create healing cannabidiol even from those parts of the plants that are directly excluded from the international definition of the Controlled Substances Act.
The main reason, it seems, that the government objects to the cultivation of cannabis as a medicinal crop is because of the social terror of ‘Reefer Madness.’ Many people, especially among the older generations or the conservative crowds, equate any form of cannabis use with negative perceptions. The confusion, as we see it, stems from being unable to distinguish the societal repercussions of recreational use and the therapeutic benefits of allowing a thriving medicinal cannabis community to exist. One of the main reasons? Cannabis is smoked. How can any medicine be smoked?
Christopher Hussey, Director of Communications for Isodiol, calls it the Triangle of Failure. “On the first corner, you have doctor’s, and mom’s and dad’s, who are searching for the best medication for their patients.” But, to feel comfortable prescribing any medication, “they require empirical, peer-reviewed clinical trials of high quality. That’s just the name of their game.” The next corner is the Legislators, who create barriers to the creation of this research and stymie the creation of credible information. Finally, you have the serial entrepreneurs and innovators who try to piggy back off of ineffectual legal clarity and create band-aid solutions or snake oil promises that are in-turn quickly discredited by the general scientific and medical community. Thus the Triangle of Failure continues to fail those who could benefit from a sensible policy most.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could learn a valuable lesson from other countries, like Israel, who do not condone recreational cannabis use but who allow a thriving medical cannabis program to flourish. Italy, the Netherlands, and Brazil also follow in the same vein. Societally there may be slightly more relaxed attitudes towards cannabis as a whole, but in particular the populace is able to separate between recreational and legal cannabis use.
Thus, Israeli Universities and hospitals are able to conduct the type of high-quality clinical trials that are necessary to prove medicinal efficacy for treatment of specific disorders. And Israeli cultivators are able to work with renown scientists to genetically engineer and select the best, most effective cultivars possible for treating different disorders. Regulating a wide-spread medical cannabis program has the added advantage of gathering a large amount of meta-data, which is then reused by research centers to drive further innovation in the field. And research can solve the main problem that bothers most people’s perception of cannabis; creating a non-smokable drug delivery vehicle that still contains all the elements of the cannabis extract.
We can spend a whole issue debating whether or not the fears of Americans are justified, but that is not the point we are trying to make. Approving a nation-wide, government-issued medical cannabis program is not just good policy; it’s the best way to make sure every patient gets the best possible medical care they can receive.