• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2011

    The Israeli government this week formally acknowledged the therapeutic utility of cannabis and announced newly amended guidelines governing the state-sponsored production and distribution of medical cannabis to Israeli patients.

    A prepared statement posted Monday on the website of office of the Israeli Prime Minister stated: “The Cabinet today approved arrangements and supervision regarding the supply of cannabis for medical and research uses. This is in recognition that the medical use of cannabis is necessary in certain cases. The Health Ministry will – in coordination with the Israel Police and the Israel Anti-Drug Authority – oversee the foregoing and will also be responsible for supplies from imports and local cultivation.”

    According to Israeli news reports, approximately 6,000 Israeli patients are supplied with locally grown cannabis as part of a limited government program. This week’s announcement indicates that government officials intend to expand the program to more patients and centralize the drug’s cultivation. “[T]here are predictions that doctor and patient satisfaction is so high that the number could reach 40,000 in 2016,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

    The Israeli Ministry of Health is expected to oversee the production of marijuana in January 2012.

    Similar government-sponsored medical marijuana programs are also active in Canada and the Netherlands.

    By contrast, in July the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) formally denied a nine-year-old petition calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance, stating in the July 8, 2011 edition of the Federal Register that cannabis has “a high potential for abuse; … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; … [and] lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 20, 2008

    What do you know?  Drug Czar John Walters has been outed as a liar — again. I mean, seriously, let’s hope this guy is more honest when he’s filing his taxes than he is when he’s talking about pot. 

    The Czar’s latest reefer faux pas? According to a previous, widely distributed ONDCP press release: “Marijuana affects … many of the skills required for safe driving. … These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana.” 

    Twenty-four hours, huh?  Well, an Israeli investigative team recently tested Walters’ claim — giving subjects high and low doses of THC and then measuring their driving performance.  Their conclusion, “No THC effects were observed after 24 hours on any of the measures.” 

    This finding is not to say that concerns regarding motorists — especially teens — driving after smoking marijuana are not without merit. For example, the study’s authors found that pot, even at low doses, impaired drivers’ ability to maintain lane position and significantly increased subjects’ reaction time.

    Intriguingly, however, the investigators reported that marijuana’s most prominent impact on driving differed dramatically from that of alcohol.

    “Average speed was the most sensitive driving performance variable affected by both THC and alcohol but with an opposite effect,” authors concluded. “In particular, subjects seemed to be aware of their impairment after THC intake and tried to compensate by driving slower; alcohol seemed to make them overly confident and caused them to drive faster than in control sessions.”

    To hear my expanded thoughts on this study, check out NORML’s 5/19/08 podcast here, or download a copy of NORML’s report, “Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review,” available here.

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