Tel Aviv Medical Marijuana Outlet Nabbed in Sting

Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich

Police detained three people associated with a cannabis distribution outlet in Tel Aviv for questioning Wednesday, on suspicion of selling more than the prescribed amount of drugs to customers.

The store is operated by the Tikun Olam non-profit organization, the Health Ministry's official grower and supplier of medical marijuana. The overwhelming majority - 85 percent - of the 500 patients permitted by the Health Ministry to use cannabis are clients of this store, located on Tel Aviv's Ibn Gvirol Street.

A bag of Tikun Olam marijuana cigarettes.Credit: Nir Kafri

In recent weeks, the Tel Aviv police had an undercover agent pose as a client holding a Health Ministry prescription for cannabis, after they suspected salespeople of supplying clients with more than the prescribed quantities.

The agent purchased the drug with the prescription a few times, before demanding 10 grams more than the prescribed amount, saying the amount she was prescribed wasn't helping her and that she needed more.

Eventually the agent persuaded the saleswoman to give her a larger amount of the drug.

The association chairman and two of its members were detained for several hours for police questioning yesterday before they were released.

Sources in Tikun Olam said yesterday that the undercover agent who pretended to be a patient had begged repeatedly for more cannabis, saying she cold not stand the pain. The saleswoman finally broke down and sold her an additional 10 more, the sources said.

"Only someone who knows the need for the drug understands someone else's need," one of the outlet workers said yesterday. "The people working here are sick and only they know what it means to suffer. The policewoman took advantage of that."

A Tikun Olam source added that the Health Ministry recently issued a tender for a permit to grow and market medical cannabis. Companies bidding against Tikun Olam for the tender had spread rumors about them to the police to weaken the group's chances of winning the tender.

"The association distributes four tons of cannabis annually and if after an undercover police investigation all the agent managed to steal was 10 grams, then we must be the world's most secure drug company," said Tikun Olam attorney Ronen Schein.

Patients who found the store locked yesterday went to the police station to wait for the release of the salespeople. One leukemia patient went to the station, where he asked people there to bring him the cannabis urgently.

"I can't eat anything because of my treatments," he said. "Without the cannabis, I can't tolerate the pain."