Fog of war: thousands of new medical cannabis patients

Published on November 10, 2023 by David Wylie

Medical cannabis is increasingly being used to deal with the realities of war in the Middle East Photo: Adobe stock/the oz.
Medical cannabis is increasingly being used to deal with the realities of war in the Middle East, such as these rocket attacks.

There’s a surging demand for medical cannabis in Israel since the horrifying attack by Hamas and the ensuing deadly retaliation in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war is in its second month after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 people, with another 240 taken hostage. Israel has since launched a devastating response in Gaza, killing more than 10,000 people in the densely populated territory—many civilians, including children.

Cannabis companies in Israel—a global leader in medical cannabis—are trying to keep up with an influx of new patients.

The Israeli Ministry of Health recently approved regulatory reforms allowing physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients as a first-line treatment rather than as an option of last resort.

Now, the Israeli medical community is experiencing a tremendous increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for post-trauma

Physicians licensed to prescribe medical cannabis and Israeli Ministry of Health authorities reported a notable surge in demand after the recent conflict, particularly in the southern region, marking a sharp shift from the previous decline in this category.

More than 2,000 new Israeli cannabis patients signed up in one month, bringing the total number to over 132,000 as of November 2023.

AI tech helps collect cannabis data

One of the companies trying to keep up is BYND Cannasoft, a cannabis software company, which says it’s focusing on innovative elements in artificial intelligence to increase its data collection and analysis.

Israel is a small country, and although we continue to take a business-as-usual approach, every one of us is directly impacted, either personally or through our family and loved ones,” says BYND Cannasoft CEO Yftah Ben Yaackov.

“In Israel, the cannabis and pharmaceuticals industries are part of the critical infrastructure sector, and I am very proud of how the team is coming together to work through this horrific situation.”

More data on cannabis patients in Israel

In terms of patient age, more than 60,000 medical cannabis patients in Israel, nearly half of the total, fall in the 21-45 age range. The second-largest group comprises approximately 44,000 patients aged 46-65, with the remaining 24,000 patients aged 66 and over. There is also a smaller percentage of patients up to the age of 20, particularly children with conditions like autism or epilepsy.

The data also indicate an increase in patients using relatively high doses, with 29,752 patients holding a license for 40 grams of cannabis per month, 27,382 patients for 50 grams, and 25,709 patients for 20 grams. Additionally, 20,516 patients have licenses for 30 grams, 13,211 for 60 grams, and about 15,000 patients for 70 grams per month or more.