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Israel Takes Final Step To Allow Cannabis Exports, European Market In Sight

May 15, 2020 6:51 am
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Israel Takes Final Step To Allow Cannabis Exports, European Market In Sight

Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen has signed the final approval for companies in the country to start exporting cannabis products worldwide.

According to The Jerusalem Post, cannabis companies can start submitting license requests within 30 days from May 13, when the free export order became effective.

The middle-eastern country had legalized cannabis exports in January 2019, but final procedures for obtaining licenses had become stalled.

The Health Ministry will now provide licenses. 

Israel has an active local medical cannabis program and decriminalized adult-use in 2019.

Economic Potential For Exports Into Europe

Europe is rising as the most talked-about destination for Israeli-grown cannabis. While this market showcases an exciting potential, experts have contrasting opinions on Israel’s role in the old continent.

"This is a significant step for exporters and Israeli industry, which will enable both the expansion of export opportunities for the sector and increase employment of new workers, especially in light of the great worldwide demand for Israeli medical cannabis products," said Minister Eli Cohen.

Hagit Weinstock, an Attorney specializing in cannabis regulation in Israel and Europe said that only 30% of cannabis companies in Israel can meet the required regulatory criteria to be eligible to export into Europe, within 30 days.  

Weinstock added that the only cannabis currently suitable for export is the cannabis grown in indoor facilities, and that no other material will meet European regulations. In her opinion, many Israeli cannabis companies think they’ll meet EU-GMP standards but actually won’t make the cut.

"The European market has very clear definitions on who can market and sell medical cannabis, and the regulation there monitors the quality already from the seed level,” said Weinstock.

An Israeli economist and cannabis investor, who asked to keep his personal information private, said to Benzinga that Israeli cannabis is not a commodity that international markets are expecting with anticipation.

Production costs in Israel are higher than those achievable in Eastern Europe or Portugal, where some Canadian companies like Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) and Aurora (NYSE:ACB) are already in production.

Some Israeli companies are looking for alternative strategies for penetrating the European market, like producing in Africa. Last year, Together Pharma, an Israeli cannabis producer, announced it’s farm in Uganda was certified to be in line with WHO guidelines of good agricultural and collection practices (GACP) for medicinal plants, and was moving forward to receiving EU-GMP certification.

ICAN, another Israeli cannabis conglomerate also announced in 2019 the purchase of Southern Sun Pharma, a cannabis company working throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

The investor thinks Israel can offer specialized niche products, but the country is not in an advantageous position to gain a significant share of the international playing field.

Photo by Kostiantyn Stupak from Pexels. Edited with material from Ilona Szentivanyi, Copyright: Benzinga.

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