The team here at CannaTech is dismayed with news stating a decision on Israel’s export of medical cannabis products has been postponed. This change would have allowed Israel to participate and be a leader in what is still a wide open European export/import market. The potential financial loss is staggering.
Several nations have expressed interest in purchasing medical cannabis from Israel, including European countries where medical cannabis usage is growing – Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland. Some nations, like Germany, currently rely solely on foreign producers.
“The demand for medical cannabis export to Europe is well-established,” says CannaTech VP Sari Klaff. “The high percentage of speakers and attendees at our annual conference who originate from Europe is a clear indication of the growing need on the continent for Israeli innovation and expertise. While we believe this shortsighted decision is a temporary setback for the industry, we are confident that common sense will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, CannaTech will continue to promote an ecosystem in which Israel’s vast intellectual property and technological contributions are exported throughout the world.”
Sales from countries already interested would add as much as 4 billion shekels ($1.1 billion) a year to Israel’s $320 billion economy.
“Israel is perfectly positioned to enter and disrupt the medical cannabis market that is expected to soar to $33 billion dollars worldwide in the next five years,” said Saul Kaye, CEO, iCAN:israel-cannabis. “In Israel alone, we quickly expect over $1 billion in sales to countries interested in our products. Companies and inventors from around the world are collaborating with us. Cannabis will become as important to Israel’s economy as high-tech.”
The ability to export may also boost foreign investment, as R&D centers will be able to monetize products developed for a wider market. Export would allow Israeli companies to capitalize before other nations introduce laws for local cultivation, lowering the need for imports.
“To the investors, I say if your horizon is long-term growth and sustainability, then it doesn’t matter if export is approved today, in a month, on in three months’ time,” Kaye said. “Export will happen from Israel.”
Two issues were cited for the postponement of approval: Spillage (leakage from the legal market into the illegal market) and a request by the U.S. government not to export.
“Spillage is one of the reasons that has always come up for not allowing medical cannabis,” Kaye said. “If we’re concerned about spillage, how come we’re not concerned about the spillage of opiates? If we are concerned, how do we prevent it? We certainly don’t prevent it by stopping the manufacture of opiates and the export of opiates.”
Israeli companies looking to export will need to maintain medical-grade standards and be subject to strict supervision. Exports will be made only to specific countries which approve of Israel’s medical cannabis processing standards.
“Israel’s expertise in the field extends from cultivation, processing, research and development,” Kaye said. “By law, Israeli companies will be subject to strict supervision and maintain high medical grade standards.”
Medical cannabis usage is expected to grow threefold over the next decade. The introduction of Israeli medical cannabis products to the global market could mean both increased availability and quality for patients grappling with pain management, multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis and other chronic conditions.
News reports confirm that US President Donald Trump asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to export medical cannabis.
“’Mr. Trump asked Mr. Netanyahu.’ It’s a very easy excuse to make. ‘Well, we were asked by another government not to do it,’” Kaye said. “There is a very easy work-around around that: ‘OK, we will not export medical cannabis to the United States.’”
We hope Israel’s role as a leader in medical cannabis research and acceptance will speed mainstream acceptance as a sustainable solution for a wide range of ailments, often without the side effects of current treatments.