Israeli medical marijuana patient nabbed for driving under the influence
A 25-year-old man with Health Ministry permission to use marijuana to relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder had his driver's license suspended last week for driving under the influence of drugs, even though ministry guidelines permit such patients to drive.
Police said the Health Ministry authorization applies only to the use of marijuana, not to driving under its influence, which it said poses a danger to the public.
The man, Eitan, survived a terror attack at his boarding school in the West Bank settlement of Itamar eight years ago, where three of his friends were shot to death outside his room. He heard their shouts from under his bed, where he hid to escape detection.
He has suffered from PTSD ever since, and received permission to use medical marijuana three months ago.
"I underwent a lot of treatments, and I saw a lot of psychologists and psychiatrists. Nothing helped until the cannabis treatment," said Eitan. "It's the only thing that really helps me. It represses the traumatic memory, the screams of my friend who was killed, which I still hear."
Last week Eitan was pulled over for a routine police check. Police detained him for questioning when they spotted the marijuana, even though he showed them his authorization from the Health Ministry. Eitan was held in custody for about five hours, where he was interrogated and ordered to submit a urine sample for a drug test - which came out positive.
His license was suspended for one month and he was ordered to appear in traffic court for driving under the influence of drugs.
Health Ministry regulations state that those authorized to use marijuana are not allowed to drive for the first two weeks of treatment, but are normally allowed to drive thereafter. Patients are advised to pay attention to how they are feeling before deciding whether to drive, as with others who take strong medication.
"I'm not taking cannabis for the sake of it," said Eitan. "I'm taking it because I'm sick. I didn't do anything that should require me to get into a police car."
By Liel Kyzer
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