Prescribed Grass – a 2009 documentary that influenced Israeli politicians
Documentary by Zach Klein on the medicinal use of cannabis in Israel. Beginning with a young leukemia patient hooked up to her chemotherapy in a hospital ward, the film shows the personal stories of people who are helped by cannabis under a license issued to them by the Ministry of Health, and the science from Israels world leading experts in the subject of the cannabis plant, including Professor Rafael Meshulam – known as ‘the grandfather of weed research’ for the discovery of the active compound THC and the endogenous cannabinoid system in 2000. Filmed over the span of three years the interviews are conducted on location in their homes and places of work with cancer patients and their families, medical doctors and growers, Parkinson’s disease and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD ) sufferers and the unforgettable Felix – a former elite rock climber who is now barely able to draw breath and slowly dying of a paralytic illness – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS) .
“It’s one of the best films you’ll ever see, documentary or otherwise.” (Fred Gardner, “O’Shaughnessy’s”)
In 2000, Zach Klein’s mother contracted breast cancer. She suffered from pain and side effects from past surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments and her doctor whispered to her that hashish could ease her pain. Medical cannabis treatment did her wonders. It reduced her pain and improved her functional capabilities and morale
Zach’s mother was concerned that the use of cannabis could cause brain damage and she turned to him with the question of whether or not that was the case. He did not realize then to what extent that question would change his life
As a curious and thorough individual, Zach Klein began to investigate the matter. That very same year, Professor Raphael Mechoulam was awarded the Israel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the active ingredient in cannabis, THC.
Zach Klein went to his lecture in Tel Aviv.
That lecture shook him. He realized there was something different here. For the first time he heard that there is science behind cannabis and this work opened a new world for him.
Zach uncovered the subject in depth. He began to read articles and almost all of the studies carried out in the field, he met with scientists and researchers, and he investigated it himself and gained extensive knowledge on the subject. He even flew to a scientific conference in Germany, where he discovered that the field of cannabis is a serious science and was excited to see the people behind the names of the articles he read.
When he returned to Israel, he met “Tikun Olam” who grew cannabis in their homes and dispensed it to sick people. There was very little interest then. It started with full discretion- about ten patients, three employees, and total cooperation with the Ministry of Health.
Zach Klein was very excited that there were other people who thought like him in regards to cannabis; and who were working on the practical side.
The tool that Zach Klein had was his camera. He filmed and filmed.
The conference, the Israeli scientists that said amazing things on the subject, the patients who agreed to have their faces exposed, and more and more.
In 2007, when Zach Klein became an expert on cannabis, he decided to create a movie about medical cannabis. Over three years of his films turned into an innovative, important and exciting movie.
In 2009, the movie “Prescribed Grass” aired on Channel 2, featuring Avri Gilad.
-The film led to the beginning of a comprehensive and fundamental change in Israel; an approach to use cannabis for medicinal purposes
The following are quotes from reviews that the movie received, which reflect the film’s great significance:
(You can read the full reviews on the recommendation page)
Professor Raphael Mechoulam:
“My acquaintance with Mr. Klein began in 2007 when his full time occupation was in film making. He interviewed me for a film about a study I conducted regarding the properties of medical cannabis.
I myself agreed to be interviewed for the film after meeting with the director and I saw the serious and loyal approach he took in making the film.
Since the interview, contact with Zach Klein has remained. I discovered an enterprising, intelligent, open and sociable individual who was very interested in the subject of medical cannabis. He deepened his knowledge greatly and occupied himself with the subject quite a bit even after the broadcast.
Mr. Klein holds a deep understanding not only in specific subjects within the field of medical cannabis, but also of the technology and effectiveness of research in the topic, of existing products, and mostly of the plant’s healing properties and its effectiveness in providing relief to many patients worldwide.
Tzachi’s degree of motivation has always impressed me. His goals and interests are genuine and come from a place of genuine care and concern for the sick citizens of Israel.
I have been involved in the study of substances derived from the cannabis plant for over 50 years. These studies won me the Israel Prize as well as respected international awards.
I was unable, as were my colleagues and other scientists, to engage and spread knowledge amongst the general public. It was a welcomed endeavor that the director took upon himself, to serve a humane mission, the role of taking the next step.
The film brings scientific knowledge, its applications and their impact on people. The film does so meticulously and accurately in regards to the transfer of scientific medical knowledge.
Having watched the film, more than once, I can express my deep impression of the film’s great sensitivity, humaneness and excitement. Due to its very humanness and proper construct, the film manages to penetrate many hearts and to influence them. In light of hesitations and doubts, it attempts to alleviate suffering through its content. The film created a surge of interest and discussion on medical cannabis amongst citizens, physicians and scientists.
I congratulate Tzachi Klein for his work, for his important mission, a mission which made the Israeli public aware of the many beneficial qualities of the cannabis plant and its active substances.”
Dr. Yehuda Baruch:
“Tzachi Klein’s film brings forth scientific facts, and encounters with scientists and researchers from Israel … All of which maintain lead positions in research institutes at the well-recognized Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
In addition, the film tells of Tzachi’s personal stories of people who are helped by cannabis under a license issued to them by the Ministry of Health; disabled IDF veterans, PTSD patients, cancer patients and more. The stories are compelling in their authenticity, they’re touching to the heart of the viewer, and it is certainly no exaggeration for the many viewers of the film to shed a tear of deep identification with the characters raised in it.
The film brings in scientific knowledge, which is integrated with stories of real people in a compelling, humane, sensitive and profound manner.
I am someone who was recently appointed in charge of the medical cannabis use in Israel, and I can attest that the film generated a change in the attitude of the public, the Ministry of Health, and the Government and Knesset in every matter regarding medical cannabis treatment.
Immediately after the screening of the film, a Committee was convened to discuss regulation of medical cannabis in Israel. The subject progressed considerably in recent years and is now undergoing a series of processes.
Thanks to the film which appeared several times on different TV channels, medical cannabis was brought to the attention of the Israeli public and it sparked widespread public debate. As a result of all of the publicity that the film received, many patients contacted their physicians to seek the required approval, and within a short time, about a year, the number of people who were helped by the medicine grew from a few hundred to thousands of patients who have a license to use medical cannabis.
In addition, there was a surge of interest among scientists and researchers, doctors and professionals who have begun to explore other diseases of which cannabis can bring relief.
I warmly recommend giving a prize to film director Tzachi Klein, who has researched the subject in depth over the years, and has brought it into a sensitive, humane and especially important film with no comparison.
In is doing so, he has brought about a change in the social perception of cannabis and brought relief and healing to the suffering of many patients.”
“I met Tzachi Klein about five years ago when he turned to me and showed me clips from some of the things he filmed. In the same meeting he asked me whether I would be willing to be exposed for supporting the cause. If I would be willing to tell my own personal story. I agreed. I agreed to ‘put my soul in my hand’ [to reveal myself], just as Tzachi Klein, did himself. And that means going against the flow and saying, ‘Gentlemen, open your eyes! Be for a moment less stuck in a stigma, look for a moment!”.
And this is exactly what director Tzachi Klein’s documentary, “Prescribed Grass” is saying.
The film combines deep scientific knowledge, it’s serious and it provides proof through interviews with Israel’s best scientists who are the world’s leading experts in the subject of the cannabis plant.
Depicted in the movie are touching personal stories of patients and sick people being treated with cannabis who describe how its use is beneficial for them and their illness. Among the other characters, as I noted earlier, I am also taking part in the film. I agreed to tell my own story as a cancer patient who uses medical cannabis, with the understanding of how important this information is for the benefit of the public, which has a broad range of sick people suffering great pain that I also knew once.
In his talented way, Tzachi Klein takes an objective approach, and with the highest observation, presents things as they really are. That is, he succeeded in working on the basis of the war of conventions, of the conventional war. The relinquishing war. And Tzachi did not give up. He went to the end with it – and he succeeded.
And that is something rare.
We couldn’t believe it. No one could believe it. Even when I agreed to be filmed and to participate in this, I said to myself that establishment would find a way to discredit it and close it, because it’s scary. But no. It succeeded!
The effects of “Prescribed Grass” in Israel are enormous. Today, those who use medical cannabis are not considered a taboo. Period. The film made a big change in people’s perceptions of what they thought was a dangerous drug. Now they realize there is a possibility that “this thing”, medical cannabis, helps people and relieves their suffering.
The film opened a window to the deeper understanding that if medical cannabis is beneficial and helps people, then maybe it can be made legal? Why not actually? And the revolution in this field since the screening of Tzachi Klein’s film is large and multi-scale. From a few hundred people who possessed a license to use medical cannabis to today with over ten thousand people who enjoy the medical benefits of this plant.
I got to know Tzachi Klein at work, and I learned to appreciate his artistic choices in his work. I also know that with Tzachi the mission did not end with the completion of the film. He continued to visit the sick, to help, to guide and to help anyone who asked for his assistance in this area, which he continues to do to this day.
Director Tzachi Klein produced a film with deep content, which is moving in its authenticity.
“Prescribed Grass” succeeded in handling an unusual and uncommon topic that is so controversial, and to really change the perception of the public and of the authorities about it.”
“Prescribed Grass” – a film that is also a way of life.
“I’m happy for the opportunity to express my appreciation for the work of Tzachi Klein, a director, producer and social activist.
My acquaintance with Tzachi Klein began about twenty years ago. We formed a partnership then, in many projects in the film and television industry. However, unlike artists for whom the film is the final goal, with Tzachi the film was only ever the path… Tzachi tends not to accept anything as granted. His insatiable curiosity is always pushing him to cast doubt, to hesitate, to get to the bottom of things and to ask himself and his environment essential questions.
About ten years ago, “life circumstances” introduced Tzachi to medical cannabis. Tzachi then discovered coincidentally, a huge population of people who are suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease , AIDS and more… People that were suffering, who could have benefited from medical cannabis, and it was being prevented from them.
This random encounter, completely changed the axis of his life. Tzachi deepened his knowledge in the field of medical cannabis and joined the body of people who help those suffering from chronic pain and terminal illnesses. And so, the sought after film director and editor, both appreciated and successful, became a licensed caregiver of medical cannabis. In right of his cinematic talents, Tzachi produced the wonderful film “Prescribed Grass”; an important, personal, penetrating and arduous documentary. However, unlike ordinary documentary directors who present a frank and objective reality, Tzachi chronicles his personal patients in this film. He films patients very near and dear to his heart.
The film “Prescribed Grass”, is a combination of an artistic and immensely powerful documentary, and of a social protest that points a finger of blame at the medical establishment, which is well aware of the benefits of medical cannabis use, but due to the multitude of conflicting interests (economic interests, of the pharmaceutical companies, conservatism, biases ) prevents this such meaningful aid from reaching so many sick people.
In my eyes, the film “Prescribed Grass” is an important, painful, and quality documentary. A film that, in addition to giving an emotional glimpse into the world of the sick and suffering, succeeds in stimulating public discourse, wakes up the medical establishment from its slumber and even leaks into Knesset discussions. This film is on the list of significant achievements in the field of documentary film, and also in the social and public arena.
From the critic column of Ariana from Melamed ynet:
“Prescribed Grass”, produced by Tzachi Klein and Avri Gilad, was a product of television versatility, well prepared, and eye opening with its informativeness – but also in its intensity of pain within it.”
It’s not a drug, it’s a medicine. These are not stoners, there are people whose pain and suffering come through the screen, and threaten to grab the viewer’s throat chokingly. It’s not a “case”, rather a detailed documentary directed by Tzachi Klein, in which Avri Gilad narrates its story with grace, empathy and sensitivity, and without squeezing his or our sensitive glands too much.
“Prescribed Grass” was a short journey; a versatile and efficient clarification in the subject, which is unfortunately in the backyard of Israeli medicine. For ages man has known that cannabis helps to combat pain; until 1936 the cannabis plant was part of the official medicine chest of Western medicine, but when it was adopted as a drug, this wonder of creation ceased being dispensed to those suffering, and instead exposed them to the wonders of the police.. “Prescribed Grass” can do a good service to those in need of medical cannabis and those who find that their doctor has disregarded it.. For a healthier and happier audience, we can only ask for more products such as this on television.. In a word: Excellent.