The Thai delegation with Director of Export Policy at the Foreign Trade Administration Itai Melchior (C) and Director of the Medical Cannabis Unit Yuval Landschaft.
(photo credit: ECONOMY MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON)
A 20-strong delegation of senior Thai government officials has arrived in Israel to learn from Israeli expertise and experience in medical cannabis cultivation, and to evaluate possible areas for cooperation between the countries.
Their visit follows both the Israeli government’s decision last week to approve exports of locally-grown medical cannabis to the worldwide legal market and the December 25 decision by Thailand’s military junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly to legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes.
The delegation includes three director generals of the Thai Ministry of Health and the entire directorate of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization – the body tasked with cultivating the cannabis plant, transforming it into a drug and marketing it in the state-owned organization’s pharmacies at a subsidized price.
The visit was initiated by Israel’s economic attaché to Bangkok in collaboration with the Health Ministry’s Medical Cannabis Unit, which will facilitate meetings between the delegation and Israeli companies specializing in agriculture, cultivation and producing cannabis extracts.
“The Thai people view Israel as a country of innovation, and we are pleased that the local government has decided to visit Israel at the perfect time in terms of business potential and with a very extensive delegation, in order to examine opportunities for cooperation and learn from the experience that we have accumulated here,” said Dagan Alony, head of the Economic and Trade Office at the Israeli Embassy in Thailand.
“As always, we are putting great effort into promoting Israeli industry abroad generally, and in Thailand in particular,” he said. “This is an excellent opportunity for Israeli companies in the Thai market.”
The Israeli government’s decision to finally permit exports, despite months of stalling, was based on a recommendation from the Interministerial Committee of the Finance and Health ministries in August 2017 to allow the export of cannabis for medical purposes. It estimated that the state could earn between NIS 1billion-NIS 4b. ($277 million-$1.1b.) per year from such exports.
The committee cited the economic potential created by Israel’s many advantages areas such as advanced regulation, research and development, clinical experience – and a unique climate that can be exploited by farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs to develop Israeli products for the international market.
Export licenses will be exclusively granted by the Health Ministry and will require police approval.
“The medicalization of the cannabis process led by the Israeli Health Ministry is unique and has raised a lot of interest around the world,” said Itai Melchior, director of export policy at the Foreign Trade Administration.
“We believe the government’s decision last week to permit the export of medical cannabis will bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the Israeli economy, help farmers and producers, and create jobs.”
The global medical cannabis market, which was valued at $8.3 billion in 2017, is projected to soar in value to $28b. by 2024, according to a recent report by Energias Market Research.
“Many countries are interested in learning our clinical methodology so that doctors can prescribe medical-grade cannabis
to patients,” said Yuval Landschaft, director of the Medical Cannabis Unit.
“But many countries are even more interested, not in dealing with cultivation itself, but to import quality, pharma-grade products from Israel.”