In a decision that thrilled the country’s cannabis industry, Israel’s cabinet gave a final OK on January 27 to regulations permitting the export of medical marijuana. The law was unanimously passed in the country’s parliamentary body the Knesset in December.
News of the legalization of exportation is a long time coming in the eyes of many Israeli cannabis professionals. A government committee approved a plan to move towards legal exportation in 2017, but the process dragged over concerns about exported cannabis getting into the hands of entities in areas where marijuana is not yet legal.
The decision makes Israel the third participant in the global legal cannabis market. The governments of the Netherlands and Canada also allow for exportation. The global cannabis market, according to a report by Energias Market Research, was projected in 2017 at $8.3 billion, and stands to rise to $28 billion by 2024.
On Monday, Ehud Barak, chairman of Israeli company InterCure, announced plans to launch operations in 10 countries over the next two years.
“I have supported the export of medical cannabis from Israel all along, and I welcome the government’s approval today,” Israel’s finance minister Moshe Kahlon commented to the Jerusalem Post. “The export of medical cannabis will give the State of Israel a huge advantage in connecting research and development with agriculture and the cannabis industry, it will bring significant foreign currency revenues into the state and will maximize the advantages that the State of Israel possesses throughout the production chain.”
Licenses for exportation will be granted by the country’s health ministry.
Israel’s medical marijuana system has been overseen by the country’s agricultural branch since 2017. Agriculture minister Uri Ariel told the Jerusalem Post that the cabinet’s decision sends a “historic message to farmers of Israel, young farmers, to patients and the Israeli economy.”
Of course, this is far from the first time that Israeli companies could be expanding beyond the borders of the country. Israel’s Tikun Olam, founded in 2007 and still the country’s largest marijuana company, expanded into Canada back in 2014 when it partnered with MedReleaf. Among its various forays overseas, the company founded Tikun Olam USA in 2016, co-founded a cannabis developer in Australia in 2017, and opened a division in the UK last year.
Israeli cannabis companies are not the country’s only entities getting involved in the worldwide weed industry. In August, plans were announced for an Israeli genome analysis firm to partner with a Swiss cannabis corporation in mapping cannabis genomes in the hopes of creating marijuana strains tailor-made for specific ailments.
Last summer, the Knesset moved to decriminalize marijuana possession for its population, nine percent of which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has calculated use cannabis. Thus far 25,000 Israelis have received a license to use medicinal cannabis, which has been legal in Israel since the early 1990s. Israel was the site of the first lab to isolate the THC cannabinoid back in 1964, a feat achieved by scientists Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni.