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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Cannabis and Liberty

This Sunday, my legislative proposal on medical marijuana will be brought to a vote in the Ministerial Legislative Committee.
MK Moshe-Feiglin

MK Moshe Feiglin

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Everyone in Israel is talking about cannabis: who smoked and who did not, how many leftist MKs admit to smoking as opposed to how many rightist MKs. When I expressed my opinion on this issue over a year ago, I had no idea that I had climbed atop such a potent barrel of social dynamite.

Today, it is clear to me that the medical marijuana issue touches upon layers far deeper than the prohibition or permission to use this amazing plant. (Some identify cannabis as the Biblical k’nei bosem – perfume reed – that was used in the anointment oil [see Exodus 30:23] as well as in the incense in the Holy Temple.)

This Sunday, my legislative proposal on medical marijuana will be brought to a vote in the Ministerial Legislative Committee. The proposal says that when a doctor gives a patient a prescription for a certain dose of cannabis, the patient will immediately receive a license from the state to use the prescribed amount.

This seems like a pretty straightforward proposal. But the Health Ministry opposes it. “Cannabis is not a medicine,” the ministry explains. “First we must study all the medical research on the issue from the entire world, understand what exactly it helps and what it harms. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.”

That is the crime of the cannabis plant. It doesn’t come in a capsule with a metallic wrapping and a medical insert. Cannabis is not a drug; it is a simple plant. Sometimes it grows one way, sometimes another. We did not produce it and so we have no control over it. The patent belongs exclusively to the Creator of the World.

People of faith have no problem with this. They have a natural modesty, an understanding that not everything is in our hands and if we see that it helps and the patient wants it, and if the side effects are far fewer than with conventional drugs, then what is the problem?

But prevailing wisdom dictates otherwise. Until we do not understand it completely – and control it completely – we will not allow it. And if in the meantime there is a lot of pressure, and the ill are crying out and the headlines are uncomplimentary, we will create a bottomless bureaucratic procedure to stop those who need cannabis. The patient’s doctor will not decide, but rather a doctor who never saw and does not know the patient will make the decision. In other words, a clerk hiding somewhere in the long halls of bureaucracy.

I once went into an old synagogue, a remnant of the socialist Mapai Party days, to recite the afternoon prayers. On a dusty, wooden shelf I found an old, yellowing prayer book. I opened it. On the inside cover, the Jewish Agency stamp could be plainly seen: “The Department for the Provision of Religious Needs,” it said. “After all,” went the socialist reasoning, “Religion is the opiate of the masses. If there is no choice and the people demand it, we will provide it on our own conditions. The main thing is that we retain control. We will even supply something as unquantifiable as faith.”

Estimates put the number of marijuana users in Israel at somewhere between half a million to one million. It is no coincidence that more and more MKs now understand that an admission of cannabis smoking will help them politically. Clearly, a citizen who has to smoke his cannabis in hiding, living in fear of the knock at the door, can be easily controlled. If the government allows the ill to easily access cannabis, the next step will be legalization. Why would a government that strives for control go along with this new law?

We haven’t even yet mentioned the drug industry, the second largest in the world (after the arms industry). The drug industry’s basic interest is to eliminate the competing substance that cannot even be patented. This is in addition to the financial and systemic pressures applied by various organizations, some of them dubious, on the Health Ministry to nix cannabis.

Initially, Health Minister Yael German explained to me that her hands are tied and the law must be changed. Now, when my new law has gone through all the necessary stages and most of the ministers support it, the health minister is working hard to prevent them from passing it.

The flip side of the liberty coin is responsibility. The basic interest of any state and its apparatus is to control all the spheres of responsibility for our daily lives: the state owns the land, and the state is responsible for our children’s education, welfare, health, and the like. If we don’t use complicated policies to prevent the use of medical marijuana, the state reasons, we will lose control and the entire country will go to pot.

Some detractors also feared the light rail in Jerusalem. “How can we let a train drive down a busy pedestrian mall without having people getting killed all the time?” they asked. It turns out that when responsibility is restored to the citizen, he knows how to take care of himself just fine.

The debate is not about cannabis. Cannabis is just the tip of the iceberg. The debate is about liberty.

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19 Responses to “Cannabis and Liberty”

  1. Thanks Moshe for this great article. And thanks for your efforts as MK to improve conditions in Israel. I hope your measure succeeds.
    Re: the subject of "control" and who wants to exercise it and why – it's my observation that, at least in America, people who have a strong desire to control others in general see any mind altering drug as, literally, unwelcome competition. THEY want to alter your mind themselves – according to THEIR priorities. That's why you see such extreme resistance to any move towards more freedom for the public when it comes to any kind of drug. That's my 2 cents anyway.

  2. excellent article, Moshe Feiglin

  3. Thank you, Moshe. So very well articulated.I ama retired RN and have seensomany patients in end-stage health status who would have benefited greatly from medicinal cannabis. If there just wasn't so much red tape and near impossible odds to receive it. Their lives near the end would have been a little bit easier. Pain control is so important, the controlshouldbebetween patient and doctor. Hatzlacha on getting this law passed.

  4. Dale Elliott says:

    That's how it is…

  5. Dale Elliott says:

    Tells it like it is…

  6. Smoke cigarettes are permited, why not cannabis?, cigarettes are bad for the health and is free, better is to permit to use cannabis every one, every one is responsible for his live.

  7. Mitch Fourtwenty says:

    sweet that will bring some peace and harmony

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is clear that the majority of ‘medical marijuana users’ enjoy the euphoric ‘high’ of smoking. Today a proper medically measured and produced pill can be ingested for a more accurate desired medicinal effect as organic or synthetic cannabis pills under the names ; Sativex, Drabilnol, Marilnol… and the list goes on.
    The medicinal effect of marijuana pills lasts at least 2x longer than by smoking. The dosage is also accurate and without the harmful side effects; cancer (due to deep inhalation) , depression, bi-polar disorder, compromised immune system, compromised serotonin and melatonin production, lethargy, loss of work and wages (and subsequent burden of social assistance/welfare), may also trigger schizophrenia.
    In Jewish Law we don’t base opinion on the exceptional cases. Those need to be dealt with on an individual basis. Medical Marijuana pill are tried and true, but they won’t get you high. Do your own research and you’ll see for yourself.
    writenut-

  9. Dr. Tashkin notes that: "It turned out that increased marijuana use did not result in higher rates of lung and pharyngeal cancer (whereas tobacco smokers were at greater risk the more they smoked). Tobacco smokers who also smoked marijuana were at slightly lower risk of getting lung cancer than tobacco-only smokers."
    http://patients4medicalmarijuana.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/smoked-cannabis-effect-on-lungs-dr-tashkin/

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dr Tashkin… who??? Studies from the following disagree with Tashkin and agree with writenut regarding dangers of smoking Marijuana; Columbia University Study on Marijuana, Harvard University Marijuana Substance Abuse, Mayo Clinic Study, New England Journal of Medicine (various)… etc.
    When we do research its to find the truth, not what we want to hear.

  11. Malcolm Kyle says:

    Jesus specifically told his disciples to “anoint” people. That anointing took place using a specific formula made from a recipe found in the Old Testament book of Exodus.

    That recipe (Exodus 30:23) includes about 6 pounds of “kaneh-bosen”.

    According to many biblical scholars, “kaneh-bosen” was/is Marijuana.
    Most of the diseases mentioned as being healed miraculously after anointing are, curiously, the same ones that cannabis can heal today. Things like epilepsy, leprosy, and “crooked limbs” (an obvious reference to multiple sclerosis).

    Exodus 30:
    23 Moreover, the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even 250 shekels, and of qaneh-bosm [cannabis] 250 shekels, 24 And of cassia 500 shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy anointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. 26 And thous shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, 27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick ahd his vessels, and the altar of incense, 28 And the altar of burnt offerings with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. 29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.

  12. Malcolm Kyle says:

    1) Tobacco is cancer causing largely because it delivers specific carcinogens such as NNK and NNAL that are not present in cannabis. Not all "tar" is created equal, and tobacco has some of the most carcinogenic types of tar known to science, whereas cannabis does not.

    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/91/14/1194

    2) Cannabis (marijuana) use is associated with a DECREASE in several types of cancer… potentially even providing a protective effect against tobacco and alcohol related cancer development.

    Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased lung cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

    Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

    "Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some. Both types of smoke contain carcinogens and particulate matter that promotes inflammatory immune responses that may enhance the carcinogenic effects of the smoke. However, cannabis typically down-regulates immunologically-generated free radical production by promoting a Th2 immune cytokine profile. Furthermore, THC inhibits the enzyme necessary to activate some of the carcinogens found in smoke. In contrast, tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of carcinogenesis by overcoming normal cellular checkpoint protective mechanisms through the activity of respiratory epithelial cell nicotine receptors. Cannabinoids receptors have not been reported in respiratory epithelial cells (in skin they prevent cancer), and hence the DNA damage checkpoint mechanism should remain intact after prolonged cannabis exposure. Furthermore, nicotine promotes tumor angiogenesis whereas cannabis inhibits it."

    See:http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/2/1/21

    So there we have it: Tobacco Causes Cancer and Cannabis Prevents Cancer – even when smoked!

  13. Malcolm Kyle says:

    Here is a list of 25 studies showing that marijuana cures cancer, categorized by the type of cancers being cured in each study. Note that the consistent theme between them is that marijuana shrinks tumors and selectively targets cancer cells.

    Cures Brain Cancer
    http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/abs/66032
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11479216
    http://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/17/6475.abstra
    http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/308/3/838.ab
    http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/1/90.abstra

    Cures Mouth and Throat Cancer
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20516734

    Cures Breast Cancer
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20859676
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025276
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21915267
    http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2006/0
    http://www.molecular-cancer.com/content/9/1/196
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349
    http://www.pnas.org/content/95/14/8375.full.pdf+ht

    Cures Lung Cancer
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22198381?dopt=Abstract
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21097714?dopt=Abstract
    http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v27/n3/abs/12106

    Cures Uterine, Testicular, and Pancreatic Cancers
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabi
    http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/13/67

    Cures Prostate Cancer
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12746841?dopt=Abstract
    http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n6/abs/6605
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3339795/?tool=pubmed
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22594963

    Cures Colorectal Cancer
    http://gut.bmj.com/content/54/12/1741.abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22231745

    Cures Ovarian Cancer
    http://www.aacrmeetingabstracts.org/cgi/content/abstract/2006/1/1084?maxtoshow&hits=80&RESULTFORMAT&fulltext=cannabinoid&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=560&resourcetype=HWCIT

    Cures Blood Cancer
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

  14. Malcolm Kyle says:

    World wide "Marijuana Cures Cancer" studies:

    GERMANY

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12648025
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19914218
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15026328
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16893424
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15361550
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19889794
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19015962

    HUNGARY
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19608284

    ISRAEL
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17237277

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11586361
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14692532
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16571653
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286801
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16250836
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17934890

    ITALY
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12052046
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19189054
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18354058
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19047095
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10913156
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9653194
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18088200
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16909207
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17342320
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19059457
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12723496
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19442536
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16728591
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19539619
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16500647
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19189659
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617682
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18938775
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11106791

    JAPAN
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19394652

    KOREA
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336665

    NEW ZEALAND
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19442435

    POLAND
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15451022

    SAUDI ARABIA
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18197164

    SLOVAKIA
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16835997

    SPAIN
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11903061
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17675107
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17202146
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19425170
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18454173
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17065222
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10700234
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16787257
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15958274
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16139274
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16624285
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16616335
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11269508
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19690545
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12511587
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20307616
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16818634
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17952650
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16818650
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16596790
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15638794
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15275820
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12133838
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18339876
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9771884
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10570948
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12182964
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19229996

    SWEDEN
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19609004
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16337199
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16936228
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18546271

    SWITZERLAND
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15453094
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19589225
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15047233
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19509271
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19480992

    TAIWAN
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18387516

    THAILAND
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19916793

    UKRAINE
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18438336

    UNITED KINGDOM
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15454482
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17583570
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17931597
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18615640
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14640910

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025276
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/616322
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15753356
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12091357
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18199524
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19887554
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19457575
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16908594
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12130702
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11854771
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20053780
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16754784
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20090845
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15978942

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