Netanyahu blunts Israeli weed exports because of Trump, report says
Brendan Smialowski (AFP)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu put exports of medical marijuana on ice, potentially sacrificing an industry worth billions of shekels, because he is afraid of antagonizing US President Donald Trump, an Israeli TV station reported on Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday it was reported that after a meeting with the finance and public security ministers, Netanyahu ordered the chairman of the National Economic Council to conduct a further study into green-lighting exports.
This was despite the finance and health ministries recommending last year to approve medical marijuana exports, and broad support for the policy among bureaucrats.
Marijuana production is a promising industry in Israel, as growing international legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana opening up export markets.
However Hadashot news reported that at the beginning of the Sunday meeting with ministers, Netanyahu said that Trump had brought up the issue of marijuana legalization in a phone call between the two, and emphasized his opposition to legalization.
According to the station, finance ministry representatives told those in attendance that any issues with Trump could be smoothed over by allowing exports to certain countries but not the United States.
Netanyahu reportedly responded that he doesn't think Israel should be a "pioneer" in the field, and ordered further studies.
The prime minister's decision angered industry representatives.
A lawyer who represents industry players told Haaretz newspaper that "the Israeli prime minister passed up today on four billion shekels a year that could improve the lives of Israeli citizens, [that could ease] the struggle of the disabled, the burden on the hospitals and farmers’ distress."
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