Government to debate medical marijuana use

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The government is expected to wage a debate in two weeks time whether to establish an agency that will monitor and authorize the processing of medical cannabis. Medical marijuana is used by patients suffering from severe pain who have failed to respond to any other treatment. Last week at a conference at Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem, Dr. Yehuda Baruch a senior psychiatrist who has been responsible for the issue over the past two years predicted the number of patients seeking authorization to use the drug could reach 40,000 in the next five years. Currently, only 6,000 patients a year request and receive medical marijuana. The process must be strictly supervised to prevent marijuana from "leaking out" to drug users who have not been authorized to use it. Prof. Elyad Davidson, head of Hadassah's pain unit, said clinical studies showing long-term side effects from medical cannabis-use are controversial and not clear. Possible side effects include addiction, psychosis and graduating to more serious drugs Davidson said.