On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet approved a bill to allow medical cannabis exports, unlocking the door to a market expected to yield one billion new shekels (about $272 million dollars) in tax revenue per year.
The legislation enables companies to export medical cannabis to countries that permit its use, provided that they first obtain licenses from Israel’s health authorities. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli exports to Australia, Austria, Germany, and Mexico, among others, are slated to start in mid-2019.
Back in December, the export bill passed its third reading in the Knesset, Israel’s unicameral national legislature, with a 21-0 approval. But the road to this development wasn’t bump-free. In the past, some legislators tried to block the bill, citing fears that products would be diverted to the illicit market. The bill’s latest iteration addresses those concerns by granting police the ability to monitor cannabis farms and revoke licenses. The result, Sara Gluck, COO of the America Israel Cannabis Association, told Cannabis Wire, is legislation with “tougher regulations on exporters and harsh fines for violators.”
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Despite its favorable climate and decades of experience in research and production, Israel’s cannabis industry has been overshadowed by other nations due to its inability to export. Prior to the passing of the bill, some companies even launched operations abroad (Uganda, for example) in order to skirt restrictions and participate in the global market. The decision to allow medical cannabis exports in Israel, added Gluck, is the fruit of government reports that point to “the adverse effects of inaction,” namely the estimated loss of millions in revenue.
The new regulatory landscape is a welcome change for companies like Tikun Olam, a local medical cannabis supplier that has operated since 2006.
“Tikun Olam has worked with the Ministry of Finance and other government ministries to promote export since 2011 and we are very pleased that today the issue is supported by all government ministries without exception,” spokesperson Ma’ayan Weisberg Joels told Cannabis Wire, adding that “the company’s products are in high demand worldwide.”
A notable new name in the global cannabis industry is former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who last year called for Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, now chairman of the medical cannabis firm InterCure. The firm, which bought medical cannabis company Canndoc and is already traded in Tel Aviv, plans to list on Nasdaq by mid-2019.