Medical Cannabis Patients in Israel Will Now Be Allowed to Drive

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Jay Syrmopoulos
Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times.

Tel Aviv, Israel – The Israeli Health Ministry, on Tuesday, introduced a new amendment that will allow individuals to drive after using medical cannabis, after many patients complained that their freedom of movement was being restricted.

Currently, Israel recognizes more than 30,000 medical cannabis users who have a government-issued permit, but these patients were previously not allowed to drive since the government classified cannabis and all its derivatives as a dangerous drug under Israeli law, classifying anyone with a dangerous drug in their system as being “drunk,” according to Haaretz.

The Israeli permit to use medical cannabis specifically states: “While using the dangerous drug it is completely forbidden to carry out acts requiring concentration, including driving and operating heavy equipment.”

According to a report from Haaretz:

The new amendment, which will come into effect in about 30 days, stipulates that patients will be permitted to drive three hours after smoking cannabis. If they consumed it in the form of edibles or as oil, they will have to wait six hours before getting behind the wheel, while those who also consumed alcohol will have to wait 12 hours after taking cannabis before being allowed to drive.

The amendment puts further restrictions on drivers who use cannabis, requiring them to be under the supervision of the doctor who signed their medical cannabis permit and to refrain from consuming other substances classified as dangerous at the same time. The amendment also limits the cannabis dosage for drivers to 50 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 15 percent, or up to 40 grams a month with an active ingredient concentration below 20 percent.

Health ministers had previously refused to make an exception for the medicinal use of cannabis, requiring patients to acknowledge that they understood they were not allowed to drive if being treated with cannabis. Under the new amendment, individuals will be allowed to drive three hours after taking the drug, but critics note that there is no way to enforce the amendment due to being unable to verify when a patient last used cannabis.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Jeff Sessions Wages War on Cannabis]

The amendment decriminalizes patients who had become “offenders against their will,” according to the Health Ministry. Despite the progress, the Medical Cannabis Association, which advances patients’ rights, was critical of the amendment, highlighting the fact that amendment doesn’t apply to many patients using medical cannabis.

“There’s no way to ascertain the percentage level of active ingredients in each and every flower, so there’s no way to determine what active ingredient percentage a patient consumed in the hours before he got behind the wheel,” the Medical Cannabis Association noted.

“On top of that, the number of patients who take more than 40 grams of cannabis a month is significant, as is the percentage of patients who use another narcotic medicine as well. The amendment doesn’t apply to at least a quarter of medical cannabis users,” the non-profit group added.

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