When the Israeli government approved an innovative new program to export medical cannabis from the Jewish State to the thriving international market, a lot of people were excited about the potential revenue prospects.
Unfortunately, internal squabbles between ministries in Israel has delayed the medical cannabis export initiative, to the chagrin of many. The disagreement is between the Israeli ministries of health and finance regarding who will control the pricing of the medical cannabis exports.
While the program is slated to bring $70 million to $1 billion in revenue per year to Israel, not much has happened since the plan was approved back in 2016. Stong opposition from the Israeli Ministry of Public Security has delayed the implementation of the program, with further delays coming from the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Just to exacerbate matters further, the medical cannabis program in Israel is also fraught with issues at the moment. The Health Ministry tried to implement a process to cap the price of medical cannabis in the Jewish State but that never panned out as planned. This is a case of red tape and bureaucracy gone wrong, in a country which is used to such measures coming from “up on high.”
Just recently, the Israeli Health Ministry wrote to the Israeli Finance Ministry. They noted that the conditions surrounding the export of medical cannabis are unclear at this time. The issue here is that export, if not done correctly, could hike up the prices of cannabis for medical patients in Israel to the point of excessive and oppressive. Such a price hike would affect the 50,000 or so Israeli citizens who hold a permit for medical cannabis. The whole matter is made that much worse by the absurd fact that Israel only has eight licensed medical cannabis growers.
The lost revenue already isn’t worth thinking about and that’s not to mention all the lost venture capital opportunities that are being missed. If Israeli authorities would issue another eight or sixteen licences, it would solve the problems overnight. Unfortunately, years of cannabis prohibition in Israel has left its mark on the attitudes of the “establishment” and the powers that be. Interestingly, more Israeli citizens consume cannabis regularly than any other nation in the world (in terms of percentage.) And that all feeds into the black market, which is highly lucrative for some people.
The whole debacle means that many Israeli medical cannabis patients will have no choice but to turn to the thriving black market in Israel, and pay prices well above reasonable. Considering that good quality cannabis in Israel ranges from $20-$30 per gram, most patients simply cannot afford that price tag.
It remains to be seen which way the winds will blow in Israel as far as their domestic and international medical cannabis export conundrum is concerned. It’s the hope of many that the the bureaucrats are squabbling politicians will put their personal agendas on the back seat and allow people the access to the medication they need.
Countries like Canada who recently legalized cannabis have been having no end of supply issues and the Israeli exporters could tap into that ripe opportunity in seconds if they were allowed to. The coming weeks and months should see some progress on both international exports and domestic pricing in Israel to see a satisfactory solution for all concerned.