A Flourishing $40 Million Medical Marijuana Industry Helps Israelis Forget

ISRAEL: On a recent afternoon in Kibbutz Naan, near the city of Rehovot, Israel, Moshe Rute took a hefty puff from his pot pipe, with the blessing of the government. His hands stopped convulsing, and he drifted into the story of how cannabis had done for him something that no person could—help him forget. A “Holocaust child,” he said the memories of his past—of hiding in a chicken barn in his native France to escape the Nazis, and the later death of his wife—haunted him.

For years Rute, 81, had been silenced by his psychological baggage and unsuccessful at sleep. But in 1988, when he arrived at the Hadarim nursing home in central Israel, where he was prescribed medical cannabis for a cocktail of ailments, he finally “opened up,” he said. “When I was a child my imagination saved me. I was alone, talking to the chickens. What saved me here was the cannabis.”

After the hourlong smoking session on the porch, we retreated into a spartan, ground-floor room, where the creative by-products of his drug use were on display. They included sketches of chickens and of his late wife, as well as black-and-white Pollock-style splatter paintings. He’d already completed three books.

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