KIBBUTZ NA’AN, Israel , Dec 15 2012 (IPS) – With his shaky hands, eighty-year-old Moshe Roth can barely pour the green powder into his pipe. Seated in a wheelchair, he murmurs in a trembling voice, “Even the scent’s good.”
He survived the Holocaust as a child; he survived a stroke two years ago and almost lost the use of his hands; and he lost his wife last year.
But life’s a bit easier now – with a little help from a pipe packed with pot. “Grieving the loss of a loved one is more bearable with a good pipe between your lips,” he smiles. “It changed my life.
“I imagine you walking with me hand-in-hand, O my forever young, beloved beauty,” says the retired Israeli official and spare-time painter and writer, in a moving eulogy to an old black-and-white portrait of his wife.
Shortly after he takes a hit, Moshe can draw or write with an inspired, confident hand. He’s one of some 10,000 patients who freely, legally consume marijuana in Israel.
At the Hadarim nursing home, cannabis is on the menu of medical treatments. In fact, 19 patients out of 36 use medical cannabis.
“Though we know how to extend life, the pain is great. In geriatrics, the future doesn’t matter any longer. What matters is the now – how to add quality of life to longevity,” explains Head Nurse Inbal Sikorin while opening the safe containing bags of powder and flowers.
Sucked from a syringe, peppered in a yoghourt, administered three times a day in half-gramme doses, cannabis dramatically reduces the need for medication, say doctors, nurses and patients. “Why use painkillers? I feel great with cannabis,” says Rivka Haloup, 85, who suffers from acute arthritis.
Parkinson patients inhale the smoke from a vapouriser six times a day (the nurse wears a mask). But the most potent effect comes from just smoking a joint. “Cannabis doesn’t change reality but makes it easier to accept,” says Sikorin. “At their age, it’s a blessing.”
The “blessing” comes from the pastoral village of Birya, sheltered amidst the Galilee hills.
While some 200 million people worldwide take cannabis illicitly, Israelis take it seriously. Production and use of medical cannabis is legal. A strong medical research sector under adequate government supervision makes Israel one of the world’s most cannabis-friendly countries.
By Pierre Klochendler
Read the full story at ipsnews.net