Cabinet Approves Medical Cannabis Exports

YERUSHALAYIM -
An employee tends to a medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel, Thursday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

The cabinet approved a long-awaited law to allow exports of medical cannabis at the weekly meeting on Sunday, in a move likely to boost state revenues.

The decision was made by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and the Finance Ministry.

The finance ministry said the bill allows the export of medical cannabis to countries that permit its use after receiving licences from the health regulator.

“The bill is expected to open a new market for Israeli producers, which is expected to increase investment in the fields of agriculture, research and production, and create new jobs,” the ministry said.

Some lawmakers had tried to block the legislation of Israeli-grown cannabis going abroad, fearing more cultivation could push more drugs onto the streets at home.

Israeli companies – benefiting from a favorable climate and expertise in medical and agricultural technologies – are among the world’s biggest producers of medical cannabis.

The government estimate exports could raise tax revenue by 1 billion shekels ($272 million). At the same time, the bill imposes tough regulations on exporters and threatens jail terms and hefty fines for violations.

Eight companies cultivate cannabis in Israel, many of which have opened farms abroad to get into the international market. Dozens of business owners have requested government authorization to export.

According to Government Resolution 1587, an interministerial team was established to examine the feasibility of exporting medical cannabis. The interministerial team was headed by the directors-general of the Health and Finance Ministries. Representatives from the Agriculture and Rural Development, Internal Security, Justice, and Economics and Industry Ministries participated in the meeting.

Ariel said that “the export authorization for medical cannabis is an historic message to farmers of Israel, young farmers, to patients, and the Israeli economy.”