Shlomi Sendak is Head of the Israeli Medical Cannabis Clinic and he spoke to The Global Herald about the legalisation of cannabis for medical uses by the Israeli cabinet on 7th August 2011:
As you say that the Israeli Health Office has already recognized some of the medical uses of cannabis, what is the significance of today’s decision?
“The main significance of the decision is that cannabis is here to stay, putting an end to the attempts to shut down the project.”
Tell us about the work of the Israeli medical cannabis clinic – what sort of conditions are treated and what form of cannabis is prescribed?
“The holy-land’s cannabis can be prescribed as flowers, pre-rolled cigarettes, cookies, oil etc. There are 12 official growers, some of them could easily win the cannabis cup contest, they make you understand why this land is regarded by many as holy. The medical conditions treated with cannabis today are cancer, HIV positive people, various chronic pain that does not respond to conventional treatment, Krohn’s Disease, cluster headaches, glaucoma… I am still working hard to convince the Health Office to prescribe medical cannabis for PTSD, Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, sleeping disorders, anxiety and more. We’ve come a long way so far – but we still got a long way to go..”
What is your role at the Israeli medical cannabis clinic and what is your professional background?
“Back in 1994 I initiated the campaign advocating the use of medical cannabis – I wrote a booklet about “Marijuana – the miracle drug”, then agreed to roll a joint and smoke it in front of the camera, in a top Friday night talk show – from there began a pro-legalization movement that in 1999 became the Green-leaf party.
“About 2 years ago, after the Israeli Health Office recognized some of the medical uses of cannabis, I left the party and today I am the head of the Israeli medical cannabis clinic, struggling for the same causes but not through politics… So today I have 17 years of actual experience with cannabis, though cannabis has been part of my life for 35 years – since I was 17 year old! It is the only medicine I ever needed and ever used.”
What is your experience of the utility of medicinal cannabis?
“It is the best alternative to chemical drugs, totaly safe, all natural, created by God himself. You wouldn’t suspect him to be a drug dealer, wouldnt you?”
Why did you join the Green Leaf party?
“I wanted to use the political option as a trojan horse, to free cannabis.”
Why did you leave the Green Leaf party?
“This taxi has reached its destination.”
What is the public perception of recreational cannabis use in Israel?
“We are a very high nation, if you read the talkbacks you’d see the majority want no less than total legalization!”
Do you think that the decision of the Israeli cabinet will legitimise recreational cannabis use?
“No, but I’ll settle for not punishing cannabis users.”
Do you envisage any problems with the implementation of the new legislation?
“Yes. The Israeli police are very much against it, due to ignorance. For example, they want to take away the driving license from all cannabis patients, so the war ain’t over yet…”