An Orthodox rabbi has issued a religious ruling approving the use of marijuana as  medicine.

Efraim Zalmanovich has specified that smoking marijuana for a recreational high is not sanctioned by religion. However, he said: “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden. But if the drug is administered to relieve pain the person giving it is performing a mitzvah.”

Israeli health care providers may prescribe marijuana for more than 30 health ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, cancer and chronic pain.

Israeli health care providers may prescribe marijuana for more than 30 health ailments

Israeli health care providers may prescribe marijuana for more than 30 health ailments

Israel distributees 880 pounds of marijuana per year, according to the Israeli Health Ministry, in contrast to the Netherlands, which although known for marijuana tolerance distributes only 330 pounds of medical-grade cannabis per year.

In a country with 7.7 million residents, some 11,000 Israelis held prescriptions for medical marijuana in 2011. The government plans to place additional restrictions on the patient application process.

Israeli researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem say the drug compound may be helpful for a variety of illnesses and conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and neuropsychological conditions.

In the United States, New Hampshire will soon become the 19th state to allow medical marijuana.

Federal law in the United States technically forbids medical marijuana but is selectively enforced.