Photo Credit: public domain
Prescription form for 'medicinal liquor', issued in the 1920s under the National Prohibition Act, Bureau of Prohibition, U.S. Treasury Department.

An Israeli physician who sees patients in the northern Negev city of Arad advocates the legalization of cannabis altogether — not just for medicinal purposes — saying that more than 100 years of bans on various drugs have not stopped substance abuse. In fact, Dr. Yuval Rabinovich says it’s time to legalize everything.

“As physicians, we are not very good in refusing patients’ requests, but the society expects this from us,” Rabinovich said originally in a response to a post on a colleague’s Facebook page. “The primary problem is regulation. Politicians think that banning something that is bad for you is a good idea.”

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Speaking to JewishPress.com in an interview on November 1, Rabinovich said that after more than a century of fighting heroin use, “we didn’t succeed in preventing people from getting it — and the price didn’t even drop.”

“Medicinal” cannabis has the “alleged attributes of classic panacea,” Rabinovich said, “a remedy for all diseases with the proof for none: fibromyalgia, epilepsy, cancer pain, Parkinson’s disease. The list is endless.”

He also noted that so-called “medicinal” cannabis has “no standardization of use: dosing, route of administration, post marketing follow-up, or anything else,” and went on to say that the “worst thing about cannabis is that it is described as harmless, a thing that it is definitely not.

“We are now 99 years since Prohibition. Alcohol was banned unless you could get a prescription, and indeed it was prescribed,” Rabinovich said. There were prescriptions for alcohol to relieve anemia, tuberculosis, pneumonia, high blood pressure, “and whatever you would expect from an early 20th century panacea.”

It is time, he said, “to put away with regulating substances and legalize everything.”

He pointed to alcohol as “a good example,” saying that one is not allowed to drive under its influence, nor is anyone allowed to sell it to children.

“Apart from that, as doctors we advise you not to consume it in large quantities, but you do not break any law if you do. This way we have good regulation. We tax it, the manufacturing conditions are adequate, and we do not pretend it to be a medicine.”

The Israeli Ministry of Health includes a Medical Cannabis Unit, which is the authorized unit that “examines applications and issues permits to hold, use and research dangerous drugs under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.

“The Medical Cannabis Unit examines medical recommendations to use cannabis for medical purposes, in accordance with the established procedures,” including as an adjunct treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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