On April 1, Israel decriminalized adult cannabis use including home-growing and low-level possession, according to a Forbes report. Under the reforms, individuals can grow cannabis without criminal penalties and public possession will now be met with fines.
During comments at the fourth annual CannaTech conference in Tel Aviv, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak quipped that Israel is updating its motto to “the land of milk, honey, and cannabis.”
“Some 35 countries have already legalized cannabis to a certain extent, either for medical or sometimes even recreational use. Two-thirds of US states have approved medical cannabis; one-third [have approved] recreational use. … The future of cannabis belongs to the bigger, faster and more assertive players which will enter directly into the markets.” – Barak, during his CannaTech keynote address.
Israel proposed new medical cannabis guidelines in 2017 and, according to the Ministry of Health, more than 550 farms have submitted requests to grow medical cannabis crops. The new guidelines, which take effect “imminently,” will allow patients to purchase medical cannabis in pharmacies. Currently, Tikun Olam holds 40 percent of Israel’s medical cannabis market share.
Tikun Olam USA Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Gardner said that by legalizing medical cannabis more than a decade ago, Israel “has allowed companies … as well as medical, research and educational institutions, to undertake the groundbreaking research that has created the basis for some of the advancements in this fast-growing industry.”
“If one is to look at a country that is at the forefront of the cannabis industry, they need to consider Israel at the top of their list,” Gardener said. “From the early discoveries from Dr. [Raphael] Mechoulam to the significant work in identifying the endocannabinoid system, Israel has been leading the path for some of the most significant advancements in cannabis science.”
Last year, the Israeli Parliament passed an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance that allows firms to export medical cannabis from Israel.