Occupied Jerusalem- With the continuous increase in trauma, psychological crises, and post-traumatic stress disorders in Israeli society as a result of Operation “Al-Aqsa flood“As a result of the war on… Gaza stripThere has been a noticeable increase in the use of medical cannabis by Israelis and in the increasing demand for psychiatric medications and tranquilizers.
Since the “Al-Aqsa Flood” on October 7, 2023, the number of new prescriptions for hashish or medical “cannabis” has increased by 250%, noting a high jump in the scope of its use among Israelis during the war.
In addition to the increase in prescriptions for medical cannabis issued by the centers and clinics of the official health funds affiliated with the Israeli Ministry of Health, volunteers distributed this cannabis to thousands of “survivors” of the events of October 7 and those displaced from settlements.Gaza cover“.
These data were revealed in an investigative investigation conducted by the website “Zaman Yisrael”, which documented the testimonies of some doctors who treat settlers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the testimonies of many of them about significant improvement thanks to the use of medical cannabis.
Although the psychological state of those who suffered shock has improved as a result of taking it, some doctors and therapists see excessive consumption as a mistake that harms patients and may cause complications and side effects. The Israeli Ministry of Health opposes the use of medical cannabis during the treatment of traumatic events and is trying to limit it.
During the first weeks of the war, Shuli Cohen, from the settlement of Sderot in the south, volunteered to distribute medical cannabis to residents of the “Gaza envelope,” telling the website that “thousands of residents of the enclave who were regularly using it remained stuck without it and without prescriptions to buy it.”
She explained that she participated by volunteering in distributing medical cannabis to the residents of Al-Jahlat “when they felt that they needed cannabis more than ever due to trauma and psychological disorder.”
Medical cannabis companies and pharmacies donated huge quantities of it, and the journalist who prepared the investigative report, Tani Goldstein, says, “Volunteers have created a green emergency room that collects cannabis and medical hashish from donors and sends volunteers to deliver it to the displaced in vehicles they call the cannabis ambulance.”
Cohen volunteered in these cars, and at the beginning of the war she even traveled to the border settlements on the “Gaza envelope” to distribute hashish to the needy who were still there, accompanied by two armed volunteer security guards from the special guard teams known as “Brothers in Arms.”
The “Green Emergency Room” worked for two months and distributed cannabis to about 1,400 displaced people from the “Gaza envelope.” The activity was carried out with the approval and supervision of the Ministry of Health, which allowed volunteers to distribute to any patient who had a license to use cannabis, even if he did not have a prescription for it.
'A huge leap'
In light of the state of emergency and the impossibility of receiving medical services in the “Gaza Envelope” and Western Negev regions, the Ministry of Health extended – for 3 months – all licenses for the use of medical cannabis that had expired last October, and authorized displaced settlers from the south to renew lost cannabis licenses remotely. , By email.
During the war, according to what journalist Goldstein documented, “there was a huge jump in the demand for medical cannabis in Israel. The Ministry of Health granted 2,000 new cannabis use licenses in October, and 3,000 last November, compared to about a thousand licenses the month before the war.” .
Activists for the legalization of cannabis and medical cannabis claim that these medical approvals are the tip of the iceberg, as most applications are rejected or delayed for a long time, and many are waiting to obtain approval and licensing from the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Many of those who use cannabis and medical cannabis, legally or illegally, said in their statements to the website that it helps them deal with mental distress in situations of crisis and trauma. However, the Israeli journalist says, “Doctors are divided over whether using cannabis in these circumstances is beneficial, unhelpful, or even harmful.”
Doctors have found a lot of evidence to suggest that medical cannabis helps deal with post-traumatic stress syndrome, but Goldstein says, “This has not yet been proven in a valid scientific study. An emergency or a painful situation is not a reason to obtain a license to use cannabis in Israel.”
Some doctors – interviewed by the website – agree that cannabis and medical cannabis help in treating post-traumatic stress, but they oppose using it to treat those who are currently suffering from psychological distress due to the repercussions of the sudden attack and war, on the grounds that they are not in the post-traumatic stress disorder, but rather in a disorder. myself.
Disturbances and shocks
Other doctors believe that hashish and medical cannabis help treat psychological disorders resulting from war, and support the expansion of its use. They attribute this to the fact that many Israelis are currently living in a state of post-traumatic stress disorder, because the war on Gaza triggers traumas from the past in them, and in the post-traumatic stage, cannabis seems to help them, according to what the website quoted them as saying.
Following what the Israelis call the “Black Saturday events” (October 7) and at the beginning of the war on Gaza, the medical institution at the Ministry of Health took a liberal approach and eased restrictions, but with the rise in demand for cannabis and medical cannabis, it retreated to its traditional approach of issuing licenses and granting prescriptions. Medical care for patients and those suffering from trauma and psychological disorders.
On October 18, Dr. Gilad Bodenheimer (Director of the Mental Health Department of the Israeli Ministry of Health) and El Frukhter (President of the National Council for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) published a letter to doctors and patients under the title “Beware of using cannabis as a means of dealing with and coping with traumatic events.” “.
At the beginning of the third month of the war on Gaza, associations helping patients who use cannabis and medical cannabis reported that since the publication of the Ministry of Health’s letter, doctors had approved fewer licenses to use medical cannabis, and extended fewer existing licenses.
According to Eli Levy, CEO of the Al-Mualla Association, which provides diagnosis, training, and medical and mental support to about 4,000 patients who use cannabis and medical cannabis, “the Ministry of Health’s order has made it difficult for many doctors to issue cannabis licenses and prescriptions.”
As a result, Levy says, “(There are) huge numbers of people who have been traumatized, whose world has been destroyed, who have been attacked, who have lost loved ones, who have been displaced from their homes, who have returned from war reserve service, and people for whom all this horror has become a trigger for past trauma and their psyche is turned upside down.”