The Israeli Parliament (the “Knesset”), passed the 16th amendment to Dangerous Drugs Ordinance on December 25, that concerns the governance and regulatory aspects of exporting medical cannabis from Israel. Subsequently, Israel is poised to be a top-earning, global hub in the marijuana market.
The Knesset’s measure was approved unanimously by 21 votes. Following the vote, the Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, approved. (Minister Gilad previously disapproved such actions; however, his party is currently up for re-election.)
The bill passed the Knesset’s internal affairs committee and two additional votes in the Knesset’s grand hall. The legislation authorizes the Israeli Police to conduct supervision of cannabis farms, and grant approvals for cultivating, growing and exporting of cannabis and cannabis-related products. Police involvement clears a legal obstacle necessary for the final approval of export of medical marijuana from the country, during 2019,
While the amended bill allows provisions for future cannabis export, pending government authorization, recreational marijuana use is still illegal in Israel. A government resolution is required to authorize export. Minister Erdan hopes to get approval by Sunday or shortly thereafter.
According to the Knesset’s website, the bill states that “any license to engage in medical cannabis will be subject to a license from the Ministry of Health.” Provisions were made stipulating that each applicant for a license to engage in medical cannabis will receive a positive or negative recommendation from the police department. An exemption from police review may occur for foreign investors. The police will be required to provide its guidance for domestic applicants within four months, and foreign investors within six months.
According to the wording formulated in the committee, “anyone who violates the terms of the license to engage in medical cannabis is liable to 24 months imprisonment or a fine of NIS 75,000,” or $19,887 at today’s market rate.
Additionally, the purpose of the bill is, “to regulate and maintain a clear separation between the ban on all trade in cannabis as a ‘dangerous drug’ as defined in this Ordinance, and the export of medical cannabis currently permitted in medical use in accordance with the reform passed by the Minister of Health in June, 2016. The goal is to regulate the export of medical cannabis and to allow the creation of a medical cannabis market for Israeli exports, which will provide the state coffers with an estimated NIS 1 billion.”
There are currently eight companies operating in Israel, and there are dozens of additional requests from business owners to work in the field, which are awaiting the approval of the relevant parties. Entrepreneurs and researchers, as well as the business owners themselves, cite many requests from all over the world. All are encountering roadblocks because medical cannabis is lumped in with the other types of cannabis in the sweeping prohibition on trade.
“Israel is a medical cannabis power,” said Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel. “The Israeli research conditions for growth in the field precede most countries in the world by five to seven years due to progressive regulation.”
“Furthermore,” says Minister Ariel, “the products in Israel are manufactured according to strict production standards, on a medical level, like in the pharmaceutical industry – including strict security rules for the entire value chain, developed following inter-ministerial work which took place over a prolonged period.”
Meanwhile, marijuana stocks were sent soaring on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, after the Knesset’s announcement, according to Israeli outlet Ynet.
Quite a few Israeli companies stand to benefit from this bill.
Seedo, for example, developed a fully-automated plant growing device managed and controlled by an artificial intelligence algorithm, monitored by a user’s smartphone application. The equipment is much more advanced than the typical “space bucket.”
Seedo is well positioned to take advantage and leverage the opportunity to export medical grade cannabis, cultivated and grown by its commercial auto-growing facility, which the company manufactures for the industrial sector. The automated growth cycle ensures a yield of pesticide-free, high-quality medical grade cannabis which can be processed and exported from Israel.
“This new legislation removes the last legal obstacle which remained in the path towards approving export and singing it into Israeli law,” Said Zohar Levy, CEO of Seedo. “By the end of the year 2019, Israeli companies will be able to take advantage of our edge technology and leverage the possibility to export high quality, pesticide-free medical cannabis to the world. We are proud to be able to offer this solution to the local Israeli and international growers.” The grow box has become so popular that it is currently on back-order.
Additional Israeli cannabis companies, such as Tikun Olam, PhytoPharma and Cannabics will also flourish under the new legislation.
Israel has a well-earned reputation for being the Silicon Valley of the Middle East, due to game-changing Israeli inventions such as video calling and messaging app Viber, the world’s first metered-dosage cannabis inhaler called Syqe, and Water Gen which makes drinkable water out of natural condensation in the air.
With a predilection for inventing advanced technology, combined with restrictions on cannabis export lifted by the Knesset, it is only a matter of time before Israel dominates the competitive global marijuana market.