Medicalization of cannabis: What does it mean?

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Background Despite the frequent use of the phrase “medicalization of cannabis,” it is not clear what it means to different stakeholders involved in medical cannabis (MC) policy development. This report examines Israeli stakeholders’ understandings of how cannabis should be medicalized. Methods Following principles of constructivist grounded theory method, we analyzed Israeli parliament protocols and different policy documents related to MC policy and legislation. Results and discussion There was support for the incorporation of cannabis into medicine across the various stakeholders. Nonetheless, controversies remained surrounding how cannabis should be medicalized. Specifically, whereas most stakeholders argued that cannabis should be medicalized as a medication by relying on the biomedical model of medicine, others contended that cannabis should be medicalized as a treatment, akin to how complementary or alternative treatment has been co-opted by medicine. Biomedicalization of cannabis was the dominant frame, and was supported by the Ministry of Health, which has been entrusted to oversee the MC program in Israel. Conclusion Due to its extensive experience with MC policy and its pioneering research, many consider Israel to be a leading actor in the global MC arena. It is therefore possible that other countries will follow Israel's lead in its path to the biomedicalization of cannabis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-57
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Biomedicalization
  • Co-optation
  • Israel
  • Legalization
  • Medical cannabis
  • Medicalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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