Israel has had a robust and solid medical cannabis program for more than 30 years, a strong R&D and innovation center and a large percentage of adult usage, yet recreational consumption is still illegal in Israel.
But this is about to change, with Israel poised to be the next country to introduce a legal adult-use cannabis framework. According to the draft law, Israelis over the age of 21 will be allowed to use cannabis and to purchase it at designated stores. Smoking in public places, however, will be forbidden although if you have been to Tel Aviv, you would have smelled the cannabis long before the bill reached the Knesset floor.
With elections on the horizon for the 4th time in less than 2 years, legalization is once again on the political agenda. The bill which was presented and voted on at the cabinet and government levels i on hold until general elections take place at the end of March. The bill is unopposed and is expected to pass once the new Knesset is formed.
Once the law passes, it goes to the Justice Ministry, where the guidelines will be drawn and then we will know who can play, where they can play and how much it will cost to play, and much is still unknown:
- CBD and other non-THC products
- Import/export structure for products, raw & finished
- Taxation issues
- Home delivery
- Concentrations & types of product allowed
- Home grow
Meanwhile, Israel’s legal medical cannabis market is booming with over 80,000 patients who receive an average prescription of 40g every month. This equates to 24 ILS per gram or over 77 million ILS per month (USD $24M) and growing. In order to meet this local demand, Israel imports medical-grade cannabis from Portugal, Uganda, Uruguay, and Canada. We have seen large global cannabis companies like Aphria, Tilray, Peace Naturals, and Aurora all being imported with stock flying off the shelves, not to mention the locally grown medical cannabis from the 20 or so local growers and producers.
Over 90 new applications for cannabis pharmacy licenses have been submitted in Tel Aviv alone in recent months and this is in addition to the 100+ pharmacies that can apply to dispense cannabis. Needless to say, this has poured millions of dollars into the pharmacy sector that desperately needed a boost. To date, only 60 pharmacies have been approved to dispense cannabis and each pharmacy is averaging over 1,000 monthly patients, with an average customer spend of $3,000 USD monthly.
With a solid local medical industry, the transition to and addition of recreational cannabis sales should be smooth.
Now we just need the politicians and administrators to do their job.
Let’s hope that at the next CannaTech event, as we celebrate together post-corona, we will also celebrate the legalization of cannabis for all Israelis with some locally grown, high quality, cannabis products.