Cannabis in Israel
Currently in Israel, cannabis is labeled as a dangerous substance. Only those with licenses issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) are authorized to own and use cannabis. While the policies are constantly being discussed in government, and there are changes on the horizon, there is currently a set protocol determined by the Ministry of Health when it comes to eligibility and receiving a cannabis license.
The use of both CBD and THC products requires a license. Common methods of treatment with cannabis include smoking, vaping or sublingual drops. It is recommended to discuss with the treating doctor which method would be most suitable for you.
Important to note: foreign licenses will not be recognized for owning or using cannabis while in Israel. This poses a particular struggle for those visiting and new immigrants who are still in the process of getting an Israeli cannabis license.
Who is Eligible?
The Ministry of Health has detailed a list of specific conditions where cannabis has been proven to be an effective mode of treatment. In order to be issued a license, you must have one of the listed diagnoses from an Israeli specialist. There is technically no age limit, and in specific circumstances, children can be granted licenses.
You may be eligible if you have a diagnosis of the following conditions:
- Oncology Patients
- Neuropathic pain from a clear organic source for at least a year without relief from other conventional pain medications and treatments
- Crohn’s Disease OR Ulcerative Colitis when neither immunomodulators and Anti TNF treatments have worked
- Multiple Sclerosis with spastic symptoms
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Severe epilepsy with frequent episodes and lack of management despite multiple forms of antiepileptic medications (children may qualify for this as well)
- Terminally ill patients
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with 30% disability according to Bituach Leumi’s disability criteria.
- Behaviorial disorders connected to an ASD diagnosis (may be given for children starting age 5 in rare cases)
- Neurocognitive disorders connected to Dementia
**It is important to note that in most cases, patients are expected to have exhausted other conventional treatment options before they can receive a license. The full list of criteria can be found here: https://www.health.gov.il/hozer/CN_106_2019.pdf
Exceptions may be made in certain circumstances. Speak to your specialist about applying to the exceptions committee for coverage in your specific situation if he or she feels it warrants the use of cannabis.
Conditions where a cannabis license will NOT be issued:
- Active psychosis or past psychotic episodes
- Anxiety disorders
- History of addiction or substance abuse
- Pregnancy and nursing
Circumstances where caution should be taken when issuing a license:
- Patients under 18
- Patients suffering from liver or kidney disease
- Patients suffering from severe heart or vascular diseases
- Patients with a history of addiction to any other medication or substance
- Elderly patients, especially if they have difficulty in performing basic tasks like preparing food
- Patients who take medications that cause drowsiness or tranquilizing medications
- Patients who drink excessive amounts of alcohol
The Process of Applying for a License:
There are two options when it comes to finding a doctor to recommend you get a license.
- A general specialist
- Any specialist may submit a request to the Ministry of Health for a cannabis license on behalf of their patient who meets the criteria (above).
- The specialist must be in the field that the patient is requesting cannabis for. They fill out this online form which is sent to the ministry of health to consider the case.
- Example: A pain specialist submitting a request for a patient with chronic pain. A recommendation from an orthopedist would not suffice in this circumstance.
- The specialist will usually need to upload supporting documents from the family doctor, including a general medical history and medication history.
- If they are not very familiar with cannabis treatments, they may feel hesitant to submit the application and manage this prescription themselves. If that is the case, it is critical to get a detailed summary from them explaining the diagnosis, other treatments attempted in the past, and an explicit recommendation for cannabis as all other treatment options have been exhausted. A well written recommendation from a specialist that is familiar with your case, will save a lot of time moving forward with getting a license.
- A cannabis specialist authorized by Ministry of Health
- MoH has a list of about 100 specialists that have been authorized to issue cannabis licenses.
- These doctors can be seen publicly in hospital clinics/through the kupah, with many also seeing patients privately. (Keep in mind Chok HaTzinun when determining whether or not you can go to this doctor privately. You can read more about this limitation here: https://www.yadlolim.org/healthcare/chok-hatzinun-what-we-know-what-we-dont-why-to-worry )
- If this is your first appointment with the specialist, it is crucial to bring your medical summary from the specialist that has been following your case.
- These specialists can authorize a cannabis license immediately if they see fit without needing to get approval from the MoH, as long as you have gone to them through the public system. If you see them privately, the application will be submitted to MoH through the same process as a regular specialist, and you will not receive a license on the spot.
Tip: The specialist can be a public or private doctor, but must be an Israeli specialist. Diagnoses or letters from abroad will not be enough.
Important to note: The doctor must perform medical follow-ups with the patient every three months for the first year of treatment and every six months afterwards.
Receiving a license
- If you are not issued a license on the spot, it can take 2-3 months for an approval or rejection from MoH’s cannabis department.
- About 10 days after your doctor has submitted the paperwork, it is recommended to call the cannabis department to make sure your documents were received. You can also email them at this address: email@example.com
- If you are not approved, it may be because you need to submit additional documents.
- In the event of a rejection, you can always submit an appeal for your case to be re-assessed. Before filing an appeal be sure to review your files, and see if there is additional information or documentation that needs to be included.
- Licenses are issued for a set amount of time, depending on the diagnosis and situation. Renewal requests must be made at least 45 days before the license expires.
Where can I purchase cannabis once I have a license?
Many pharmacies around the country are authorized to sell cannabis. You can search for a pharmacy near you at this link: https://gis.health.gov.il/CannabisPharmacies/?locale=he
How much does it cost?
Cannabis is not currently in the basket of medicine, and therefore the expense is on the patient. The cost to issue a license is a yearly fee of approximately 300 NIS. The cannabis itself, depending on the type and amount, can cost up to 800 NIS per month.
- Certain populations, such as work accident victims, those insured by the Ministry of Defense, and victims of hostile acts may be entitled to receive funding and assistance for medical cannabis.
- If you do not fall into this group, you should contact your Kupat Cholim to see if they offer any other subsidies.
Tip: The costs can vary between pharmacies so it is always best to call a few different pharmacies to see who offers the best price.
Possible Reforms in Cannabis Policy
It is possible that in the coming months, the government will change the cannabis protocol from needing a license to just needing a prescription. This would eliminate the extra bureaucratic steps and enable quicker access to cannabis for those in need. We of course will update you if and when such changes occur.
If you have any other questions, we’re here to help! Contact a healthcare advisor at yadlolim.org/healthcare
Pharmacies authorized to sell cannabis: https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/DynamicCollectors/cannabis-pharmacies?skip=0
Doctors authorized to issue a license: https://www.gov.il/he/Departments/DynamicCollectors/cannabis-certified-physicians?skip=0
Cannabis Amuta: https://www.mca.org.il/
MOH english: https://www.gov.il/en/Departments/Guides/cannabis-medical-treatment