Israel’s government reaches agreement on export of medicinal marijuana
Robyn Beck (AFP)
The government on Sunday approved the Cannabis Medical Export Program and accepted the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee that was tasked with examining the feasibility of exporting cannabis to countries that permit it.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Security reached an agreement that saw Israel Police allocated a budget that will grow with the cannabis production over the coming years in order to help regulate the industry.
The law originally passed at the end of the year conditions growing cannabis on a health ministry license, granting police the power to approve and monitor growers as well as investors.
The proposal came to the cabinet after a delay of a year and a half and lengthy negotiations between the Ministries of Finance, Health, Internal Security, Agriculture, Economics and Justice.
Minister of Agriculture Ariel said that "the export authorization for medical cannabis is a historic message to the farmers of Israel, the young farmers, the patients and the Israeli economy."
The medical cannabis export market is expected to be a big boon to the economy, with estimates of roughly a billion shekels ($265 million, 234 million euros) per year in income for the state.
The government's decision emphasizes that it is still illegal to export growing materials (such as plants themselves, seeds, cuttings, etc.).
Two inter-ministerial teams will be set up to deal with the branding, trademark registration and marketing promotion, as well as an inter-ministerial team to monitor the supervision and enforcement in the sector.
In 2016 Israel approved the use of medical cannabis, and last year the public security ministry partially decriminalized marijuana use, setting fines and treatment for initial use instead of criminal procedures.
The decision was made by Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel and the Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, who was formerly part of the right-wing Likud party but currently heads the more centrist Kulanu party that he established at the end of 2014.
Israeli doctors prescribed cannabis to about 25,000 patients in 2016 suffering from cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress and degenerative diseases.
Israeli producers were expected to begin exporting within six months, according to iCAN, an Israel-based firm promoting medical cannabis technologies.
iCAN CEO Saul Kaye called the law "long overdue but welcome".
"Israel, already the most advanced nation in cannabis R&D, will now be able to produce and market cannabis and cannabis-based products that will help millions of people suffering from illnesses," he said in a statement.
Nearly two dozen countries have legalized medical marijuana use.
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That is amazing. Israel has the number one doctors in cannabis would love to see Israel getting more involved in this field. Great for the country.