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A Tale of Two Nations: While Cannabis Science Progresses Abroad, American Politicians Still Skeptical

A pile of Israeli joints where strides to legalize MMJ are being made.

In History

A Tale of Two Nations: While Cannabis Science Progresses Abroad, American Politicians Still Skeptical

Cannabis cigarettes are seen at Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. Dan Balilty/AP

1960s, Israel: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam identifies THC as the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

1974, United States: A Medical College of Virginia and National Institute on Health (NIH) funded study finds cannabis effectively fights some cancers, study is buried.

1990s, Israel:  Dr. Mechoulam discovers human endocannabinoid systems.

1990s, United States : Marijuana arrest rates double.

2000, Israel: Raphael Mechoulam awarded 2000 Israel Prize in Exact Sciences – Chemistry.

2000, United States: Peter McWilliams dies torturous death while ensnared in federal justice system that denied him use of the one medicine literally keeping him alive – cannabis.

2000, Spain: Researchers at Complutense University in Madrid, led by

Dr. Manuel Guzman announced they had destroyed incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, mirroring the 1974 Virginia study.

2013, Israel: Israeli Defense Forces veterans participate in government tests using cannabis in the treatment of PTSD.

2013, United States: One million troops returned to the states from active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan between 2002 to 2009 became eligible for Veteran’s Administration (VA) care. An estimated six to 11 percent of veterans returning from Afghanistan currently suffer symptoms of PTSD. Between 12 to 20 percent of veterans returning from Iraq also report symptoms. More U.S. veterans (22 daily) are dying from suicide than from combat-related injuries. VA doctors are unable to recommend cannabis legally, even for purposes of research.

2013, Israel:  Knesset member Moshe Feiglin, a religious conservative:

“Israel has reached a very, very high level of research and development of new kinds of cannabis. It can help the whole world, and it can help the Israeli economy tremendously. I find it hard to believe that people are trying to restrict it. You cannot stop something that is so clear — so good for the patients and so good for the economy.”

According to Israel’s Health Minister, Yael German, Israel distributes more medical marijuana than any European country, distributing nearly 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of cannabis per month.

2014, United States:  Testifying against proposed cannabis bills in Maryland,

Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop:

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana [..] I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

Pristoop was referring to a satire piece on The Daily Current.

2014, Israel: The Israeli cabinet passed new regulations regarding cannabis that, while heavy handed with security regulations, acknowledge the benefits of cannabis and are actively investigating those benefits.

Here in the United States the federal government – under an administration that has acknowledged the failure of the drug war and admits cannabis is less harmful than alcohol – knows only the mode of denial.

With studies dating back a century (virtually all of which suggested at worst, decriminalization) finding no threats from cannabis or cannabis users, it would seem a simple and appropriate thing for the feds to call a time-out.

What’s Next?: Israel will creep cautiously forward with the government controlling the process and they will learn more and understand more. The United States? The ghost of Harry Anslinger attired in jackboots still stalks the halls of power in DC.

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