MEMBERS OF THE interministerial committee that approved the export of medical cannabis include, from left, Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov.
(photo credit: HEALTH MINISTRY)
The export of medical cannabis has been approved by an interministerial committee of the Finance and Health Ministries, it was announced on Sunday. The state will earn from this an estimated NIS 1 billion to NIS 4 billion a year. Any entity that meets the requirements may obtain a license to grow, manufacture, store or distribute cannabis.
The overall global price for cannabis in the world is about $10 per gram. The price of medical cannabis is growing significantly. In 2000, global production stood at 1.3 tons and in 2014 production rose to 57.3 tons.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said: “The export of medical cannabis is an industry with significant economic potential for the State of Israel and will strengthen Israeli agriculture in general and agriculture in the Arava region in particular. It will serve as an opportunity for the country to exploit its relative advantage in developing medical products from medical cannabis.”
Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who already said last week that he opposes the move but if it’s decided upon, he would demand some of the profits go to the health system, added: “The attitude towards cannabis should be like that to any drug.
Remember that the law prohibits the use and trade of cannabis except of medical cannabis for treating serious diseases in special cases and under special restrictions.”
He continued that “due to the international interest in Israeli medical cannabis because of its professional quality and the economic potential, we have agreed with the Finance Ministry to approve the export of medical cannabis under certain restrictions and to countries where there is legal approval. We will ensure that our health sector benefits as a result of the increase in state revenues.”
Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad said “the inter-ministerial committee did a professional job and after thorough examination of the matter decided that it is feasible to export medical cannabis and bring significant economic benefits to the Israeli economy, according to the standards set forth by the Health Ministry. The inter-ministerial committee recommends allowing the export of cannabis from Israel for medicinal purposes.”
Adding to this, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said “we are leading experts in a field that is innovative in the world, and therefore it must be done with caution and great responsibility, while meeting the highest professional and medical standards.”
The committee, headed by the two directors-general and representatives from the ministries of agriculture and rural development, internal security, justice, economics and industry, submitted its recommendations to Kahlon and Litzman.
The committee examined the economic, legal and regulatory aspects of the export of medical cannabis, taking into consideration the Health Ministry’s policy regarding its regulation in Israel. The team’s position is that from the standpoint of the state of the international market, it seems that there is economic potential for exporting medical cannabis and that Israel has many advantages in terms of advanced regulation, research and development, clinical experience and climate that can be exploited by farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs to produce markets for medicinal cannabis products.
However, the committee has recommended several restrictions which includes that the export be carried out by the Health Ministry or directly by the parties, while closely monitored by the state; exports be approved only to countries that permit the use of medical cannabis and will explicitly allow import from Israel; and export be approved only for farmers who receive a Health Ministry license to grow it and export it.
Export of cannabis will be permitted in all its medicinal forms – smoking products, tablets, oils and so on.
In recent years, the Health Ministry has given approval to 30,000 patients to get medical cannabis to relieve pain and treat diseases, but it’s not lifesaving.
The Finance Ministry based its position on an analysis of the economic potential for the market and that this is a virgin field with significant potential for increasing GDP for which Israel has a relative advantage.
Israel currently has eight growers licensed to grow medical marijuana, producing about 10 tons a year – there are more than 500 growers who have now applied for a license to grow it for export.