Patient with brain tumor has been in remission for 18 years using cannabis oil, now has less than a year to live as cannabis access is slashed.
It is a sad state of affairs in Israel as critically ill patients have been deprived of the full cannabis dosages prescribed to them by their doctors, and for many of them, cannabis is their life line. Yehudah Haber, 58, is one such devastated patient who has chosen to take his grievances to the Jerusalem District Administrative Court. Unfortunately for him, time is not on his side as the doctors have given him less than one year before his brain tumor kills him.
Life has been a roller coaster for the ex naval commando who committed a significant number of years in the service of his country. Haber was first diagnosed with a rare type of brain tumor, stage II oligodendrogliomas, when he was 39. Ever since, he has suffered two other cancerous growths. During his military training, Haber trained in the polluted water of river Kishon, a factor which may have predisposed him to carcinogens.
Cannabis Oil Gives Man 18 Years More Time (So Far)
When he was first diagnosed, the doctors predicted that he had less than a year to live. But Haber has beaten all the odds to be alive and thriving nineteen years later. In his bag of tricks cannabis oil – which has been a real life saver for him- sits pretty. Just three years ago, his cancer became anaplastic, at this point his doctors put him on 200 grams of medical cannabis per month. The cannabis was able to halt his seizures and stop the growth of the cancerous tumor. And then Ministry of Health regulations put Haber’s life in jeopardy.
The Ministry of Health Reduces Patient Access by 60%
Three months ago, the ministry of health notified Haber that they were going to reduce his monthly supply by 60%. They proceeded to do so swiftly, without the consultation or approval of his doctors, whom strongly opposed this move. As anticipated, his seizures are back with a vengeance and Haber is yet again struggling to remain alive as his brain tumor metastasized.
In November, the doctors informed Haber that his cancer had progressed to Stage III-IV, giving him less than a year to live. Is the government aware of the undue agony that they are causing to these very sick patients?
Man Dying From Brain Tumor Takes Case to Court With Others
Haber is walking the court corridors trying to seek justice and hoping to be alive to witness the rewards of his efforts. Attorney Miriam Brainin is Haber’s legal representative. Brainin already has some victories under her sleeve, having represented two similar cases and a win last month. One case involved an elderly lady whose cannabis dosage was reduced from 250 grams to 90 grams, just like what has now been done to Haber. Both cases were heard at the Jerusalem District Court where the verdict ordered the medical cannabis unit to reinstate the victims’ previous dosages. Brainin is hopeful for a win with Haber’s case too.
Dana Bar-On is the CEO of the Medical Cannabis Association in Israel. Bar-On is among the hundreds of patients on cannabis prescription and she did not escape the massive slash in her cannabis quota. She suffers from neuromuscular disease, one of the conditions for which medical cannabis is allowed. Back in 2015, she lost 20 pounds after her cannabis medication was significantly slashed. It was not all in vain as she is now advocating for the rights of other cannabis patients.
Ministry of Health Can’t Afford Cannabis Medicine Anymore
The Ministry of Health argue that the demand for medical cannabis has skyrocketed forcing them to “impose minimum quotas.” Back in 2013, medical requests for cannabis licenses were 14,910, as at the end of 2018 they had witnessed a 387% increase in demand with applications for licenses standing at 57,781. The greater the demand for medical cannabis the more the government has to dig deeper into their pockets to subsidize the cost of medical cannabis.
All patients with a license for medical cannabis pay a monthly fee of NIS 370, amount supplied notwithstanding. The government supposedly chips in for the deficit. Patients could even face further hurdles with the government reforms should they be forced to increase their monthly payment to match their consumption. Should this happen, more and more patients will continue to suffer.
It would be ridiculous for the government to withhold insulin from diabetic patients, in the name of rationing. The same applies for antiretroviral or chemotherapy drugs. It is unfortunate that patients needing cannabis treatment continue to face stigmatization and exclusion in spite of them being the most deserving of patients. Haber’s life is at risk, and so are the lives of other patients whose cannabis supply have been slashed.
Currently, there are about 38,000 patients with medical prescriptions for medical cannabis. Among these are patients with cancers, HIV/ADS, epilepsy, Crohn’s and PTSD among others. Very soon, autism and fibromyalgia may be added to the list. The number of deserving patients will continue to balloon and eternal rationing cannot be the ideal solution.
The government is considering the exportation of cannabis to other countries starting April 2019; this raises questions as to the genuity of the “shortage theory.”