In March 2017, Israel has officially decriminalized marijuana even for recreational purposes. This means that the Israelis can now consume marijuana and not be afraid of being charged criminally. It was a rare move that saw an even rarer coming together of politicians from the left and the right. Indeed, Israeli politicians all rallied behind the decriminalization of marijuana, no matter where in the political spectrum they belong to.
However, it should be clear that unlike with the decriminalization moves in the United States and in Europe, Israelis are still fined when they are caught using marijuana in public. The first offense would mean a fine of around US$250, and getting caught for a second time will require payment of $500. If you are caught for the third time, then you could face some time in rehabilitation and you might not be able to drive when your license is revoked. But unlike before, you will not face criminal persecution unless you get caught the fourth time. In short, it is still illegal to consume marijuana for recreational purposes in Israel, but it takes a while before you truly end up in jail, and this could be more lax soon enough.
Even when Israeli laws are still harsher than those of other countries where recreational cannabis is legal, it is still an important victory in the sense that it sends the message that marijuana users are not criminals.
Medical marijuana in Israel
The country is one of the biggest market for medical marijuana, with an estimated 25,000 users living here. The country’s medical marijuana market is expected to be worth somewhere in the nine-digits. It is that huge that decriminalizing marijuana in the country is a logical step, especially if the Israeli government wants to encourage cannabis-related businesses to grow.
Already there are more than 500 companies in the country that are currently applying for licenses to legally grow, process, manufacture, and export marijuana products. The country has earned a reputation for being a leader in marijuana research. This is the reason why there are a lot of companies interested in investing in the country’s booming marijuana economy. It is said that medical marijuana could easily become a $50-billion market in eight years.
Israel currently has eight licensed growers and, altogether, these companies are responsible for 10 tons of marijuana products every year.
In August 2017, the country’s finance and health ministries submitted their recommendations to approve the export of marijuana. Could this pave the way to Israel becoming a marijuana exporter?
The recommendation is to allow all forms of medical marijuana to be exported, including oils, tablets, and products that you can smoke, among others. There is also a plan to create a team composed of people from the agriculture ministry, health ministry, and treasury, and it will be formed under the foreign trade administration of the economy and industry ministry. This team will be in charge of branding and marketing the country’s medical marijuana offerings.
Israel is at the forefront of medical marijuana
The country is considered to be a world leader in medical marijuana. Israel has been at the forefront of providing medical marijuana products to patients for more than 10 years. Israeli researchers have also garnered huge clinical experience with medical marijuana. Their scientists can develop new strains of cannabis, as well as come up with new breeding methods and extraction techniques. All of these serve to improve the quality of their marijuana products.
Exporting medical marijuana products could only bring good things to the country. For one, it will help strengthen its agricultural sector, especially in the Arava region. If you like to put a monetary value to these exports, the Israeli finance ministry has estimated that export revenues could reach $4 billion every year. At its worst, the medical marijuana exports could easily bring in an additional $1 billion to Israel’s coffers.